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Arkansas Unemployment Drug Testing Bill Dies

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #676)
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

An Arkansas bill that would have required recipients of unemployment benefits to undergo random drug tests has been stopped in the state Senate. The Senate Health, Welfare and Labor Committee killed Senate Bill 157 in a Monday vote.

Common sense at the statehouse in Little Rock (Image via
The bill's sponsor, Sen. Bill Pritchard (R-Elkins), told the committee he had received numerous calls in favor of the bill and that some callers wanted even stiffer anti-drug laws for those receiving unemployment benefits. Under the bill, recipients would be randomly tested for methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin, with 10% of them being tested at the third and 13th weeks of benefits.

"As soon as they get help and they can pass the test, they can get right back on benefits," he said.

But the bill drew opposition from both the Arkansas chapter of the ACLU, whose Holly Dickson testified, and the Arkansas AFL-CIO, which was represented by its president, Alan Hughes.

Committee Chairman Sen. Percy Malone (D-Arkadelphia) sided with opponents. Families would be hurt if jobless benefits were cut, he said.

The bill then failed on a voice vote.

Bills aimed at drug testing people applying for or receiving government benefits are a perennial in state legislatures, with similar legislation being introduced in more than a dozen states. But they rarely go far because of constitutional problems with suspicionless drug testing, concerns over the cost of drug testing, and concerns that such policies would be counterproductive by hurting the families of those whose benefits would be stopped.

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James St. John (not verified)

I think that this law should be passed. I have to pass drug test to get a job, even a government job, so I can pay taxes and support these programs. And it should be applied to all welfare programs and politicians. Or we could outlaw government mandatory pre-employmant drug testing.
Wed, 03/23/2011 - 12:34pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by James St. John (not verified)

for non-government jobs is pushed by the insurance companies, not government.  But they push it based on belief in the government's propaganda.  I would support a law for politicians to be drug tested before they may take office and randomly all thru their terms of office, just to make them realize what their lies do to we, the people.

Wed, 03/23/2011 - 1:50pm Permalink
Rusty (not verified)

The two most dangerous drugs on Earth are tobacco and alcohol.  As long as they are legal there is no justification for prohibition to exist for any drug.  The government isn't waging war on drugs - they are waging war on the American people.

Thu, 03/24/2011 - 7:05pm Permalink
Berta (not verified)

Why do so many of the people who claim they want "smaller government" and "government out of our lives" advocate these expensive, intrusive drug tests?     

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 7:36pm Permalink
Amanda hard worker (not verified)

If my hard earned taxes are going to go to families in need then fine, however my taxes better not be going to help some lazy irresponsible  person who can afford to get high on my taxes. Therefore why not enforce a random drug testing, The money the government would save off not paying the druggies would go towards the 20 dollar piss test.

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 1:00pm Permalink

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