Drug Testing For Unemployment Benefits? - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Drug Testing For Unemployment Benefits?

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by Scott Arnold

NASHVILLE, Tenn.-If you're on unemployment should you have to take a drug test? One state lawmaker has drafted legislation he said will limit fraud of the benefit system through drug testing.

There are more than 100,000 Tennesseans on unemployment.

State Senator Stacey Campfield said in an interview Wednesday that Tennessee has one of the highest rates of fraud for the unemployment program. So Campfield is pushing to make sure everyone on the program, actually deserves to be getting the help, by making them take a drug test.

"We don't need to be subsiding someone's drug habit, the employers are the ones who are having to pay for it, and there's limited dollars we are trying to get it to those people who really do need it, who are actually trying to do something, to get themselves out of unemployment, not more or less sitting at home getting stoned," said Campfield.

Many Tennesseans seem to agree with Campfield.

"I really don't think that would be a bad idea," said Traci Throne, who is just one of the 9% of Tennesseans out of work, or underemployed.

Throne said she has no problem with drug testing to get unemployment benefits.

House Bill 957 would require each adult who seeks public assistance either through welfare or unemployment to submit to a substance abuse test. Under the law testing would be paid for by the person applying for the benefits.


Also under the law if a person were to test positive for drugs they would be allowed to enroll in a drug treatment program and upon the programs completion they could re-enroll for benefits.

Although many agree with Campfield's drug testing plan, the plan that most are concerned about is a potential for some lawmakers to limit unemployment benefits.

Currently, Tennessee pays for up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits, the federal government supplies 70 additional weeks.

"There are jobs out there, it may not be the job that you want. But to say I am not going to work, I am going to sit around and wait for that perfect thing for 99 weeks, and let somebody else pay my bills for me, I don't think that is the road that I need to go down," said Campfield.

Clifford Williams has a problem with some politicians who said people relying on unemployment benefits becomes a way of life a lifestyle you choose when the maximum amount you can get is $275 dollars a week.

"It was a lifestyle when they bailed those banks out, so why can't they bail out the people?" asked Williams.

In January state lawmakers will begin to debate Stacey Campfield's bill that will call for drug testing for unemployment benefits.

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