Arkansas Lawmakers Weigh Drug-Testing Proposal

by Michael Stratford, The Associated Press  on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013 4:45 pm  

Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson's measure would require new applicants for unemployment benefits to submit to a drug screen; current unemployment recipients would be randomly tested for benefits on a frequency determined by the state's Department of Workforce Services.

"If we're going to do this, let's be fair," she said. "It doesn't make sense to me that you would be suspicious of those people who are unemployed and not be suspicious of those people who are actually working and in public jobs."

Flowers said that while her bill is intended as a political statement, but it's also a serious proposal that she thinks would be good policy.

"I'm just trying to equalize what's often required in private workplaces with what's required of public employees," she said. "I think as a legislator, all of us should be concerned about the public dollar, the taxpayers' money. It goes to the efficiency of government."

Hutchinson, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that while he supports the concept of drug-testing for elected officials and public employees he said Sen. Flowers' amendment was a "red herring" that would complicate passage of the bill.

He said the Judiciary Committee would vote on the measure within the next few weeks.

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