Getting jobless benefits could require drug test

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COLUMBIA --- As South Carolina's unemployment numbers continue to rise, a new legislative proposal could cut off jobless benefits for people shown to be users of illegal drugs.

Under the bill proposed by Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville, anyone now receiving unemployment benefits must first submit to a test for illegal drugs. If the test is positive, the benefits are cut off, and the applicant has to complete drug treatment before they are restored and must submit to random testing in the future.

Failing a random test would shut off benefits until a second round of treatment is completed. A second failure would mean no benefits for a year.

Mr. Thomas, who said he introduced the measure at the prompting of business leaders, asserts the tests are necessary to get help for people struggling with drug addictions and to keep the unemployment benefit system from being abused.

"My concern is as much for those who are addicted or misusing drugs as for the folks that are paying the bills," Mr. Thomas said this week. "Ultimately, I think the question needs to be asked, 'Should unemployment be provided for people with ongoing drug problems, because they're using that unemployment money to feed the habit?' "

About 150,000 South Carolinians collect unemployment benefits, according to South Carolina's Employment Security Commission. Drug testing all those recipients could be expensive. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Adam Wolf said such tests cost an average of $42.

Mr. Thomas says he's introducing the bill mostly to start a discussion that could result in a pilot testing program before requiring all recipients be tested. If the pilot program showed only a small percentage of positive tests, Mr. Thomas said the provision could prove to be unnecessary. But a significant percentage might mean it's the state's best remedy against abuse of the system, he said.

Elizabeth Shelley, a Columbia attorney who says she has struggled with employment since 2001, said she's worried testing could penalize out-of-work people who rely on legal medication to treat depression or sleeplessness during their unemployment.

"A lot of times, a lot of drugs will help those types of situations," Ms. Shelley said Friday. "But if you're trying to medicate yourself with weed, that's not the best way."

Others say they have no problem undergoing testing, so long as the benefits keep coming when they're in need.

"Most employers require drug screenings in order to get the job," says J. Sanders, 25, who is doing temp work in Columbia and has collected unemployment benefits in the past. "I don't feel offended when it's time to take a drug test because the employer is just trying to protect its investment. I would do the same."

Mr. Thomas' bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. No hearings have been scheduled.

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Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 01/09/10 - 03:04 am
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An actual law with common

An actual law with common sense attatched - amazing. This should be in place now for all state aid, federal aid, housing, food stamps, etc. People who have real jobs and work hard have to pass drug tests and at the very least, those who are receiving tax dollars and subsidies should be drug free and free of any felons. This needs to pass ASAP and should be greatly expanded upon.

Just me 2
0
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Just me 2 01/09/10 - 09:34 am
0
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It is about time. I agree

It is about time. I agree 100%. Finally, something that makes
sense!!!

Just me 2
0
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Just me 2 01/09/10 - 09:40 am
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This should be applied to

This should be applied to other government gimmes as well. At
least with the unemployment the individual had some of that money taken from their paycheck while they were working. The rest of the free rides should most definitely have this stipulation. If they would actually handle this right, they could help everyone's way of life so much. All the freeloaders would have to be drug free to get the money they so definitely do not deserve!

whatsupwiththat
1
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whatsupwiththat 01/09/10 - 10:13 am
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The taxpayer should certainly

The taxpayer should certainly not be subsidizing the illegal drug trade, however with the additional costs associated with drug testing, rehab and admistration of the program it will probably end up costing more.

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 01/09/10 - 10:24 am
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This proposal should be

This proposal should be forwarded to our local branch of special interest servants; AKA legislators, for action.

seenitB4
85293
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seenitB4 01/09/10 - 10:39 am
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Why not test them,,, many

Why not test them,,, many working folks have to pass drug tests just to keep their jobs...ask folks at srp..

workingmom
0
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workingmom 01/09/10 - 10:40 am
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I agree, dstewartsr. Anyone

I agree, dstewartsr. Anyone who truly NEEDS government assistance and uses the money for necessities should not mind having to be tested. After all, it is FREE; they should be grateful there is a program available that helps them in time of need. I was always taught when you receive a gift, it's best to not complain about it.

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 01/09/10 - 10:52 am
0
0
Only thing wrong with that,

Only thing wrong with that, W-Mom is that the recipients do not look at it as a gift; to them, it's an entitlement; they have a right to receive money wrested from every poor sucker who actually does work to support themselves and their children.

3g
0
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3g 01/09/10 - 12:17 pm
0
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This would be a fantastic

This would be a fantastic step in the right direction . The cost of the testing would be offset by denying benefits to all the lazy sob users and dealers who get a free ride . Those of us who work for a living deserve the right to control how our taxes are spent .

disssman
6
Points
disssman 01/09/10 - 12:18 pm
0
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I agree with it only under

I agree with it only under the following. All testing is to be done at the state level by state facilities. No private companies will ever be authorized to sub-contract to do the service. And everyone in a business, owner included, must be tested. I just hate these feel good ideas that ultimately result in someones cousin getting exclusive rights to protect the law. Kinda like DUI schools.

corgimom
31150
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corgimom 01/09/10 - 04:40 pm
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This is un-Constitutional.

This is un-Constitutional. People would have to disclose their personal health history to the State. Do all of you really want to do that? Aren't health records supposed to be private? Taking medication has nothing to do with collecting unemployment benefits. Sure, you'd catch the drug users, but at what price? Is it any of the state's business if you are taking legal, prescription medication that is prescribed by your personal physician?

TWright987
0
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TWright987 01/09/10 - 08:14 pm
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0
Yes! It IS the state's

Yes! It IS the state's business if you are asking the state to provide support for you! A simple medical statement authorizing you to be legally taking prescription medications is not too much to ask in comparison to all the low lifes sitting on their arses collecting checks every week and getting high! I, personally, resent this behavior and it does happen, OFTEN! Besides, if you can't pass a drug test for ILLEGAL drugs for unemployment, you can't pass the same test to get a job! If you are on Rx meds, and fail a company drug test, they ask you to provide proof from you doctor for the meds that showed up...

jamesmonty
0
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jamesmonty 01/09/10 - 11:07 pm
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Corgimom, I agree that it is

Corgimom, I agree that it is unconstitutional but not because of disclosing personal health history. Getting a blood test for the purpose of detecting drug use is not disclosing personal health history. If a person is drawing unemployment then it would seem that they were previously holding a job. So their dime is in there to authorize them to get unemployment. If they really want to weed out the people on unemployment that are abusing the system then get after these employers that rather than not fire a person they use the term layoff or whatever to allow someone to get unemployment benefits when they should not be. This practice goes on quite a bit because they are concerned with lawsuits. That would also mean to get rid of those liberal judges that side with the so called "victim" employee that the employer had all rights to fire them but do not use that as a reason for letting them go or if they do fire them they sue the employer and the courts or whoever sides with the employee.

corgimom
31150
Points
corgimom 01/10/10 - 08:55 am
0
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The 4th and 5th Amendment to

The 4th and 5th Amendment to the Constitution supercedes anything else. And just as there is no LAW that says employers must drug test, it would be illegal to require it for unemployment benefits, too. And- what all of you don't realize- disability and welfare are granted for drug addicts all the time. It's a recognized disability, just like alcoholism is.

noone
4
Points
noone 01/10/10 - 01:53 pm
0
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drugs are bad um-k

drugs are bad um-k

FallingLeaves
27
Points
FallingLeaves 01/10/10 - 05:54 pm
0
0
I think the drug testing is a

I think the drug testing is a great idea and way overdue. One hitch. How would it be paid for? I have a feeling it wouldn't cost as much as it costs to feed and house the drug users and abusers now, but I don't know that for a fact.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 01/12/10 - 12:33 pm
0
0
hey cori, you need to go bac

hey cori, you need to go bac an reread the 4th/5th amend's...the 4th protects against UNREASONABLE searchs and seizures and is tied to the 14th amend based on the due process clause...due process is met by any gov't and most private employers REQUIRE a PRE-EMPLOYMENT DRUG/ALCOHOL TEST as a condition of employment. those who are collecting welfare are collecting funds given to them by the state and is SUPPOSED TO BE USED FOR FOOD, NOT DRUGS AND ALCOHOL. the 5th amend, deals with GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS AND CRIMINAL CASES TO PROTECT AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION (TESTIFYING AGAINST ONE SELF)...so now where in the constitution does it say anything about welfare/UE benefits???? it doesn't, now if you want refer to the constitution you forgot one very important amendment...THE 10TH AMENDMENT, which states: The Constitution designed the federal government to be a government of limited and enumerated, or listed, powers. This means that the federal government only has powers over the things that are specifically given to it in the Constitution. All other powers are reserved to the States. The 10th Amendment in the Bill of Rights reads like this:

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 01/12/10 - 12:33 pm
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"The powers not delegated to

"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

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