A Drug Test to Get Unemployment Benefits?
Friday, October 11, 2019
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Trump administration has approved a new regulation allowing states to include drug testing as a condition for anyone receiving unemployment benefits.
Generally, workers can collect unemployment if they've lost their jobs by no fault of their own and meet other eligibility criteria.
Michele Evermore, senior researcher and policy analyst for the National Employment Law Project, said the low unemployment rate means businesses already are paying less in unemployment benefits. She called the regulation "an expensive solution in search of a problem.
"I think at the end of the day, what this rule is about is just making it harder to get benefits," she said, "and it's a not-so-subtle attack on the character of unemployed workers – who, by definition, are involuntarily unemployed."
If the economy cools down in states that implement drug testing, Evermore said, local business could suffer because every dollar spent during the height of a recession generates $1.60 in economic activity.
Iowa is one of eight states that doesn't require a waiting period for unemployed workers to qualify for benefits, although legislation was introduced last session to try to overturn that.
With more states decriminalizing marijuana, opponents of the new regulation fear fewer workers may apply for jobs that require drug screening. Evermore said states that adopt the drug-testing requirement could create unnecessary hurdles for people who've lost their jobs.
"I don't really get the sense that people are that overly concerned that somebody might have some marijuana and then get an unemployment check," she said. "I honestly don't think that that's a public-interest concern that very many people share."
Iowa's attempt to make workers wait to collect unemployment was one of nearly 170 laws introduced in multiple states this year to alter unemployment benefits.
The new regulation comes at a time when more Iowans than ever are working; the state's unemployment rate of 2.5% is among the lowest in the nation. Mississippi, Texas and Wisconsin had enacted drug-testing laws that were put on hold while the regulation was pending.
The text of last session's Iowa legislation, House File 531, is online at legis.iowa.gov.
get more stories like this via email
RALEIGH, N.C. -- More than $1 million in COVID-19 relief grants are helping rural organizations increase their focus on locally sourced food relief…
DES MOINES, Iowa -- This fall, the Iowa Utilities Board is hosting meetings to inform the public about a proposed underground pipeline, which would …
MANDAN, N.D. -- North Dakota has had nearly 18,000 job openings in recent months, with roughly 1,000 in construction. A labor leader in the trades …
Health and Wellness
DAYTON, Ohio -- An Ohio county is taking a trauma-informed approach to its work on preventing marijuana use in teens. As marijuana policy changes …
DENVER -- As Congress considers making significant investments in the nation's child-care system, children's advocates say now is the time to make …
MONTEREY BAY, Calif. - This week, conservation groups are celebrating Sea Otter Awareness Week with online and in-person events across the state…
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Admission to any state park in Nevada is free this coming Saturday, as part of the first Nevada Public Lands Week - with a series …
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A new Redistricting Advisory Council announced last week by Gov. Tom Wolf's office will focus on reducing gerrymandering as new …