The Republican-led Arkansas state Senate approved a measure on Monday that would require random drug testing of Arkansas residents who receive state unemployment benefits – a plan that the state’s Democratic governor said could violate federal law.
The bill, which passed on a 25-5 vote and now goes to a House committee, could affect about 85,000 Arkansas residents currently receiving unemployment benefits.
If the measure becomes law, those seeking unemployment benefits would have to sign a waiver and allow for random drug testing. Those who refuse to sign or who test positive for drugs would not be entitled to benefits.
Some other states have adopted measures making a person discharged from work for failing an employer’s drug test on the job ineligible to collect employment benefits, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
In Texas, Governor Rick Perry has a proposal in that state’s legislature that would require drug tests for both unemployment and welfare recipients. But it has not yet passed a chamber.
The Arkansas bill’s sponsor, Republican state Senator Jeremy Hutchinson, said that his measure was “more of an enforcement mechanism than anything else.”