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Senator Wants Drug Testing for Unemployed

March 10th, 2009 by flanews

Lawmakers are looking at adopting random drug testing for people who apply for unemployment benefits. People who failed the drug test would be denied unemployment. As Whitney Ray tells us, the unemployed fear random testing would slow down the payment process.

With half a million Floridians receiving unemployment benefits, lawmakers want to make sure none of the money is used to buy drugs. Senator Mike Bennett filed legislation to create drug testing for people seeking unemployment.

I do believe that the people who are taking that money should be qualified and ready and able to work. I want to make sure that were not supporting somebody elses drug habit who is not willing and able, said Bennett.

The bill requires random testing for one out of every ten people who apply for unemployment. The drug tests cost about 30 bucks. The person applying for benefits would have to foot the bill.

The unemployed fear drug testing would slow down the process and increase the waiting time for benefits.

Ether Hunter was laid off from her house-keeping job two months ago. She says random testing isnt fair because the people who have been laid off have paid into the plan shouldnt be barred for any reason.

Im not a drug person, but I can say, I dont think its right people got to go through that just to get the money they worked for, I dont think its right, said Ether.

Governor Charlie Crist said the idea is worth debating.

Whether or not its a good idea, I think it is certainly worth considering, said Crist.

One consideration lawmakers will take into account is whether or not the states unemployment fund can keep up with the growing number of jobless and if drug testing could save the fund money.

Theres 860 million dollars in the states Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund. Last week the fund paid 60 million dollars in claims. Unemployment benefits are a federal entitlement program, so if the fund runs dry, people would still get their money.

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