Drug testing for the unemployed
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A state lawmaker is proposing a bill to drug test unemployed Floridians collecting unemployment benefits.
"Let's make sure it's going to people who truly are ready, able, and willing to work. People who can't pass a random drug test really probably shouldn't be collecting our unemployment money," said bill sponsor Senator Mike Bennett, a Republican from Sarasota.
Last month the state of Florida paid out $117-million in unemployment benefits.
Bennett's bill calls for 10 percent of those who file an unemployment claim to undergo random testing. Also, 10 percent of people already receiving unemployment benefits would be tested.
Mary Ann Aiken of Wesley Chapel is unemployed and unopposed to the proposal. "If they're getting these benefits and let's say for instance they are a substance abuser, then that money could be actually be going to support their habit."
The ACLU of Florida is against the bill and says this type of testing should only happen when there's suspicion someone's using.
"We're taking everyone who happens to be in this situation of not having a job, which are a lot of people right now, and we're treating them as if they are potential drug abusers," said Courtenay Strickland with the ACLU.
Leaving the unemployment office, Dorothy Odie explained how these days "the unemployed" includes "the hard-working" and people who've worked their whole lives. "These people that's coming here, they're working people that have been on their jobs. One man I met today, he'd been on his job 30 years. So, you're labeling people," she said.
But Bennett insists that's not the case. "Whether soft drugs or hard drugs, get clean first so the next person who hires you will not have the liability of having you on the payroll."
The proposal says anyone who failed their drug test couldn't get unemployment benefits for one year.
The bill still has to go to legislative committee. The cost of each drug test would come out of individual benefits.
I see nothing wrong with this at all. I am 100% for it. I'll take it one step further and extend it to Welfare recipients as well. If you are getting money from the government, state or federal, then why shouldn't you have to take a drug test? Some of the people who are paying the taxes, that are going towards welfare and unemployment, have to pass drug tests just to stay EMPLOYED. Why is there an issue with UNEMPLOYED people having to pass a drug to collect free money? Times are tough and people are losing their jobs left and right but if you want government issues funds then stay clean. Not a big issue. I hope this passes.