No matter who is in the White House or in the Governor’s Mansion and no matter how well the economy is doing, an unfortunate fact of life is that workers sometimes get laid off.
Companies downsize, move operations, go out of business, etc., and laid-off workers must find new employment. Some laid-off workers receive unemployment benefits as they look for new jobs so they can feed their families and pay needed bills.
What do some Arkansas Republicans want to do to help these unemployed folks? Create job training programs to teach new skills to displaced workers?
Nope. Some Arkansas Republicans want to make the unemployed pee in a cup by requiring law-abiding citizens to take a drug test before receiving unemployment benefits.
Republican State Rep Mark Biviano spoke to the Republican Women of White County last night and was quoted on Twitter as saying: “We’re going to reform unemployment. We need drug testing before you get on these programs.”
Other Republicans chimed in positively on Twitter, or retweeted the comments. Based on those musings it appears that some Arkansas Republicans support the idea.
The philosophy for some Arkansas Republicans seems to be this: We don’t care if you’re a 57-year old grandmother of four who’s worked for ten years at a company, only to be recently been laid off, we want you to pee in this here cup before receiving the safety net that is unemployment benefits. We think you’re a secret meth head, so take this cup, go over to that bathroom and let loose of your human dignity.
Some Arkansas Republicans believe it’s about requiring accountability since these people are receiving government funds. But why stop with the unemployed? Are you a farmer receiving government subsides? Here’s your cup. Oil executive executive whose company gets millions of dollars on government subsides? Here’s your cup. And finally, do you take the mortgage interest deduction on your home? Here’s your cup.
Florida’s Republican Governor Rick Scott tried to implement a similar drug testing program of welfare recipients. But a federal judge, appointed by George W. Bush, temporarily blocked the measure since it could violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment ban on illegal search and seizure.
Moreover, it appears that Florida’s drug-testing program is wasting taxpayers’ dollars because so few of the welfare recipients tested positive. One example is that of 40 drug-tested welfare recipients, only two tested positive for drugs, and one of those cases is under appeal. Under the Florida program, potential recipients pay for the drug test, about $30, but if the test comes back negative they are reimbursed for the drug test cost.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Arkansas Republicans proposed this potentially unconstitutional and dehumanizing drug-testing measure as part of their upcoming policy rollout. If they do, Republicans should include a requirement that all elected officials submit to drug testing as well.
Hey, Senator, here’s your cup.