Congressman introduces bill allowing drug testing for unemployment insurance

In this photo taken May 19, 2011, a man places a urine sample he has just given for drug testing. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WCMH) — Georgia Congressman Earl “Buddy” Carter has introduced legislation that would allow states to conduct drug tests for Unemployment Insurance applicants.

The Ensuring Quality in the Unemployment Insurance Program (EQUIP) Act was introduced by Carter on July 20, and would allow states to require anyone receiving Unemployment benefits insurance to take a substance abuse risk assessment.

“The Unemployment Insurance program is an important safety net program for Americans across the country,” Carter said. “I introduced this legislation because it gives states the ability to ensure the resources of this program are going to those who truly need it while saving taxpayer dollars in the process. Unemployment Insurance recipients should be drug-free and ready to reenter the workforce and my legislation works to make that happen.”

The test would use a screening instrument approved by the National Institutes of Health that is designed to determine if an individual is at high risk for substance abuse. Those determined to be at high risk for drug abuse would have to submit to a drug screening before receiving unemployment benefits.

If a person tests positive for illegal substances then they would have to meet certain requirements before receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The first positive test would result in no regular unemployment insurance benefit for a 30 day period. A second positive test would result in no unemployment insurance benefit for the remainder of the benefit year.

Earlier this year, Congress struck down a Department of Labor rule prohibiting states from drug testing for unemployment benefits.

This story was originally posted by WCMH, a Nexstar contributing station.

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