Georgia congressman wants to drug test those applying for unemployment

The Ensuring Quality in the Unemployment Insurance Program would require substance abuse risk assessments in order to get benefits

FILE - This April 22, 2014, file photo shows an employment application form on a table during a job fair at Columbia-Greene Community College in Hudson, N.Y. The Labor Department releases its weekly report on applications for unemployment benefits on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)
(AP Photo/Mike Groll, File)

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NEXSTAR) – If you are applying for unemployment insurance, Congressman Buddy Carter wants to ensure you’re drug-free.

“Unemployment is not for people who are abusing drugs and using that money to buy drugs but instead to help them get back on their feet, and we want to make sure that is what they are doing with,” Carter said.

He’s proposing the Ensuring Quality in the Unemployment Insurance Program, or “EQUIP” Act.

Under the proposed law, states would be able to screen applicants to see if they are at high risk for substance abuse. If so, that person would have to pass a drug test before receiving unemployment benefits.

Opponents call the plan unconstitutional

George Wentworth is with the National Employment Law Project

“Federal courts in Michigan and Florida that held the mere fact that you are applying for a public benefit is not constitutional grounds to require somebody to pass a drug test in order to qualify for that benefit,” Wentworth said.

Wentworth says taking a risk assessment could unfairly target applicants with high scores, forcing them to take a drug test.

“Rep. Carter’s goes on a bit of a fishing expedition to create reasonable suspicion,” Wentworth said.

Carter disagrees. He says, if passed, the plan would save tax dollars by preventing people from abusing government programs.

“It is helping people, and that is what unemployment is for, to help people,” Carter said.


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