• Trump administration announces plans to rewrite rules on drug testing for unemployment benefits

    By: Justin Gray

    Updated:

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Trump administration has focused on cutting regulations the president’s first year in office, but now, the labor department wants to add new rules for people collecting unemployment benefits.

    The proposed changes could mean that tens of thousands of Americans would have to prove they don’t do drugs to collect an unemployment check.

    The Trump administration published a notice this week announcing the plans to rewrite rules on drug testing for unemployment insurance, likely giving states more leeway to require more testing.

    Last winter, Congress overturned an Obama-era regulation that limited drug testing for unemployment benefits to just job categories that required drug testing for the job, such as airline pilots and law enforcement officers.

    Now, Republicans in Congress want the testing to go even further.

    “The people that I’m privileged to represent would be very upset if they thought somebody was receiving unemployment insurance while they were on drugs,” said Tom Cole (R-OK).

    To qualify for unemployment benefits, people already have to prove that they lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

    George Wentworth from the National Employment Law Project calls added drug testing government overreach.

    “To have the public perceive you as more likely to be a drug user just because you’re unemployed, I think that really promotes an unfortunate stereotype that isn’t going to help the average unemployed worker when they are looking for a new job,” Wentworth said.

    Under any new labor department rule, it would be up to states to decide if they want to screen for drugs and to decide how they would pay for the expensive new requirements.

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