Arizona Lawmakers Propose Drug-Testing People Seeking Unemployment Benefits

Categories: I'm Only a Bill
urine-samples-top.jpg
Daniel Lobo via Flickr


Among the first bills submitted this legislative session is a proposal from a trio of Republicans to create a drug-testing program for people seeking unemployment insurance.

Perhaps the most important part of the legislation from Representatives Phil Lovas and David Livingston and Senator Judy Burges is that it wouldn't apply to everyone seeking benefits.

This bill is a result of a federal battle in 2012, when members of Congress argued over extensions of the payroll tax cut. The deal included a number of things, including giving states the ability to drug-test applicants for unemployment assistance if they're pursuing work in an industry that typically demands drug testing.

There's been an argument about how extensive the list of jobs that require drug tests would be. The federal Department of Labor is tasked with making the rule about that, and it appears that it hasn't done so.

A law similar to the one proposed here was passed in Texas last year, and according to a University of Houston Law Center analysis, a total of nine states have adopted a similar law.

Here's an interesting caveat to Arizona's bill, House Bill 2030. If someone applies for unemployment benefits, he or she would have to take a "drug-screening assessment" before being forced to provide a urine sample.

According to the text of the legislation, "The drug-screening assessment must consist of a written questionnaire to be completed by the individual and must be designed to accurately determine the reasonable likelihood that the individual is using a drug."

If someone passes the written test, then he or she wouldn't have to take the drug test. This apparently leaves open the possibility to fill out this application with a crack pipe in your left hand, while writing, "Drugs? Never heard of 'em!" with your right hand, and your check will be in the mail shortly.

Those who failed the written test and the drug test would have to wait four weeks before testing again. The bill also would provide several other caveats, so someone who fails a test for a prescribed medication or is actively attending a treatment program would remain eligible for unemployment benefits.

Click here for the complete text of the bill.

In 2009, Arizona became the first state to pass a bill calling for drug-testing welfare recipients, and it was reported a few years later that a grand total of one person had failed the drug test. The convenient argument was that the drug-testing discouraged drug users from applying for welfare.

In 2012, Republican Steve Smith, then in the Senate, proposed mandatory testing of all people seeking to collect unemployment benefits, plus random drug testing for those who continued to receive benefits. That bill passed the Senate, but was held in the House.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.



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415 comments
DNichols
DNichols

If the U.S. would drug test all people obtaining Welfare, Food Stamps, Unemployment, and Early Government Disability.

The people not abusing the system would be paid, and those using our Tax Dollars to buy drugs could get a damn job?!!

The Drug Demand would be cut by probably 99.9 percent, and we could then fire about half of the current Police Force?!!

Im all for it!

Trommy
Trommy

Lets pass a bill to drug test anyone in the state or county government on a random and regular basis along with this bill.  I think it's a good thing to do on both sides.

Susan Holmden Weiss
Susan Holmden Weiss

This is tough, 'cuz I support legalizing medical marijuana. To get an unemployment check, you have to say you are able and eligible to work. If you're presently not drug-free, then technically you're not eligible for work ... at least not for anyplace that does drug testing, which almost all do. Maybe it will create more jobs for drug testers! :-

Kate Gonzales
Kate Gonzales

I most Certainlly agree Sense Our Tax Dollors pay them

Donn Achtenberg
Donn Achtenberg

Yes, after all it just takes a few to ruin it for everyone else.

Marty Ercoline
Marty Ercoline

A majority of unemployment benefits are paid for by the business community. So, the State really does not have to get overly involved. Put the 'piss test' monies into programs that provide job training and we should get better results. AND...stop unemployment payouts at 6 weeks.....this 99 weeks stuff is total crap.

Frances Morris
Frances Morris

No its not like they are operating equipment under the influence. But it may effect how their resume

Jared Regan
Jared Regan

It's a stereotype people on welfare and unemployment are drug users. Also, unless you're spending a lot of money on the test, they can be beaten. Regardless of ideology, it's not a good use of tax payer money.

Gaynel Allen
Gaynel Allen

Only if they take marijuana off the plate. Even then, it has not worked in Fla. or any other place. Just say NO! Hahahahahahahahaha

Kathy Anderson Gibbs
Kathy Anderson Gibbs

Absolutely agree! I know too many people who abuse the system and guaranteed if they were drug tested they wouldn't receive the benefits. If you don't do drugs you have nothing to worry about or complain about!

Thomas Prescott
Thomas Prescott

the drug testing companies arent doing it for free. if people are stupid enough to let this happen to those in need, they should be taxed more for being idiots.

Wa Aayne
Wa Aayne

I believe all politicians should have everything beta tested on themselves first

Marcos Volta
Marcos Volta

this dude is seriously delusional, he seems to be suffering from a disease known as, "white entitlement."

Marcos Volta
Marcos Volta

so when my 2 months of foodstamps run out and i'm still making shit-fifty an hour, what am i going to do then? go get another shit-fifty an hour job so that my entire life is dedicated to killing myself for some rich corporation without a face? oh and i'll still have to rely on the government for healthcare because my shitty employers wont let me work enough hours to qualify for healthcare, and that would take a sizable chunk out of my check anyways, thus making it even harder to make ends meet. (so drug test me for govt healthcare too, right? so i can work my ass off and be denied assistance cuz i like a little reefer?) everyone seems to forget that us poor-class individuals are the ones getting the shit end of the stick, the system is built against us. i'm going to smoke marijuana no matter how much money i make, how dare anyone tell me that i cant do that; but its ok if i drink a fifth of vodka every other day, right? man, fuck conservatives who think they can run my life for me. fuck anyone who wants to deny me any rights as a human being just because i like to smoke weed once in a while. it doesnt affect ANYONE but me. heres a message to all of the ignorant bigots out there who are buying into this bullshit: if you are concerned about the fact that i like to smoke weed at various times, you are petty and small minded, go find something actually worthwhile to occupy your feeble mind with. there are horrible tragedies and injustices happening every fucking day, and you want to get self righteous about people smoking a little herb? go fuck yourselves, or better yet, jump off a tall building.

Marcos Volta
Marcos Volta

are you fucking kidding me? nearly every job claims to have a pre-employment screening but approximately 95% of them never test you unless you are injured on the job. where do you get your information? the toilet store? if all you small minded people pulled your heads out of your asses you would see that this is just another shitty maneuver in the class war. anyone who is for this bullshit testing idea is either a self-righteous conservative who wants to dictate other peoples lives, or you are just a completely uneducated moron. how about this, take control of your own damn life and live it however you see fit. keep your petty nose out of my shit. what a novel idea, eh?

Alice Schatz
Alice Schatz

It is a waste of time, money and energy. Other states that have tried it have found very little drug use.

Sue Ervin
Sue Ervin

Yes, testing should be mandatory to receive and benefits.

Talkie Toaster
Talkie Toaster

Well obviously the same lawmakers that go on and on about that the gov't shouldn't be in your lives and your personal business but its ok to take piss samples from people you are trying to shame.

Barbara Primous Jackson
Barbara Primous Jackson

@Anna Powell, while the money may come from the employer taxes based the amount of employees making at least $7000, the employees are actually paying those costs. All of the dollars paid to various government agencies are based on the man hours worked by the employee; sweat equity. The various taxes paid by the working class makes it feasible to give tax breaks and subsidies to businesses. This is a protection set in place for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. They have earned the benefit (sorta like earning sick days or vacation time), why should there be even more obstacles to obtaining that benefit?

Merri Rieg
Merri Rieg

and for food stamps and for any government assistance

Victoria Wright
Victoria Wright

I do not think the Poor are Bad I think we need to look at where the money go's. Is it for housing or food for them or is it for there drugs.

Ginny Hanson
Ginny Hanson

you Want to drug test for a whole 240.00/week_ max???? youve got to be fucking kidding me!!!

David Briggs
David Briggs

How do you even get on unemployment in this right-to-starve state? You don't have to drug test people because employers just lie to get out of paying.

Steven Rizza
Steven Rizza

Politicians are the ones in need of drug testing....and a breathalyzer for Jan (DUI) Brewer

Roberto Murphy
Roberto Murphy

NO i do NOT agree as some of you said it's a huge WASTE of money, some judges in other states already ruled this Unconstitutional.

Mike Durio
Mike Durio

Lawmakers go first. What will the acceptable threshold be for positive test result? This is another example of misguided legislative energy. Even if passed, it is certain to be challenged in court and waste hundreds of thousands (or more) of taxpayers' dollars defending worthless legislation. This is a solution in search of a problem and not finding one.

Jay Cozza
Jay Cozza

Absolutly disagree. The only people to benifit is the owners of the drug testing facilities, and maker of the testing kits. I work for those benifits when im in between jobs and no one deserves the right to tell me I cant have it.

Robert Eichenberger
Robert Eichenberger

It is a scam designed to funnel more of our tax dollars into private business with absolutely no benefit to the taxpayer. Wake up!

Chelle Harden
Chelle Harden

Incidentally, that relates to health care...for the most part Health Care starts with choice, for those of us 'ill-ed' through no fault of our own...there are a multitude of resources available and not all are income based. Planned Parenthood, Hopes Clinics, St. Jude, local community Access Clinics...just to name a few. I am offended to the core that I am required to have Insurance. I believe traditional medicine and homeopathy are far better approaches to chronic complaints. Urgent issues need interventions in a hospital...for which no one is ever turned away when in need. What people fail to recognize is that curing an ill is not the same as saving a life... People are independently responsible for their own CARE, government cannot legislate CARING, no matter how hard they try. We have outlets for the disparate to seek assistance...its been abused for a long time....Its time to stop!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... you have no money, loser.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... adjust your meds, Susan.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

If you really "work your ass off", you wouldn't be making  "shit-fifty" an hour you lazy worthless POS.  Fucking drug addict mentality.   

Trommy
Trommy

This is Arizona, the lawmakers here don't care that it would be found unconstitutional.  They just want to feed the hatred of their supporters.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@fishingblues why should i struggle to make my ends meet and then pay in to help him make his ends meet if he cant even take his life seriously? what is the need for him to get high? if he isnt sick, dying or in constant pain.....................its a craving, not a need. we all crave things and have learned to live without, why cant he? i make "shit-fifty" an hour also, but i dont need food stamps, if i can make it without a major vice, he should be able to also. my money goes in to help people who are hungry and are going without certain amenities, not for vices.. having the munchies is not the same as starving

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @danzigsdaddy  Dad - you are welcome.

Donkey - you ignorant fuck.  Where did you get your definition of Capitalism?  I'm guessing from the deep reaches of your anus.  I bet you think capitalism and democracy are  the same thing as well, given you don't know the difference between socialism and communism.

Donk - you are an embarrassment to yourself. 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@danzigsdaddy ... there's a reason why Capitalism refers to humans as RESOURCES ... to be exploited and used like any other resource, for the lowest cost possible.

danzigsdaddy
danzigsdaddy topcommenter

@fishingblues business is slow, i made a sacrifice in pay in order to keep working (A/C work).. because of my sacrifice, myself and one or two others are the ones who still have jobs (they opted for the lower pay also) so essentially.......................yes it is because i wanted to. dont get me wrong, i am making less than i was and less than i am worth, but i am extremely grateful for the pay i have. i was just using the actual term of "shit-fifty an hour" because thats what he was referring to lower wages as. if people want to make money in this economy, they should be prepared to accept sacrifice. there are many people younger and better at my job who could have my job if they were willing to give in  a little, but they wont (and the same would apply to people who dont want to give up smoking pot instead of keeping their jobs or any other benefits that they are taking avail of. but thank you for the compliment if thats what you were implying)

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