Bill would require drug test for jobless benefits


LITTLE ROCK — Unemployed workers would be required to undergo drug testing to apply for or receive jobless benefits in Arkansas under legislation filed Tuesday.

Senate Bill 38 by Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, R-Little Rock, would add passing a drug test to the definition of “physically and mentally able to perform suitable work” as part of the eligibility for receiving unemployment benefits.

“Unemployment benefits are supposed to be available for people who are actively seeking work. We’re paying them to look for work,” Hutchinson said. “Most employers require a drug test, and if someone is receiving employment benefits and can’t pass a drug test, they’re not actively seeking work. We shouldn’t be paying them.”

The qualified drug screen would be certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation or approved by the state Department of Workforce Services, and DWS would establish the drug-testing program for the state.

A drug screening would be administered to a random sampling of applicants before the first weekly unemployment check and before the 13th week of weekly checks.

Anyone who refused to submit to a drug screen or who tested positive for illegal drugs would be disqualified from receiving benefits.