Yesterday, key Republican Members of the Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Labor expressing their continued support for unemployment insurance (UI) reforms signed into law in 2012 that authorize States to screen certain UI applicants for drug use. In anticipation of the Department’s upcoming notice of proposed rulemaking on this provision, the Members encouraged the Department to take a broad interpretation of the law’s scope so that States can use this new authority to help prepare more unemployed workers to successfully return to the workforce.
The 2012 reforms permit States to screen (and, if individuals are screened as likely to be using illegal drugs, test) any UI applicants who either (1) lost their job because of drug use, or (2) are seeking a job that generally requires a drug test, which will be defined by the Department of Labor.
A recent hearing of the Human Resources Subcommittee confirmed the importance of the critical, pro-work UI reforms contained in The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (Public Law 112-96), which President Obama signed into law on February 22, 2012. During the hearing Members of the Subcommittee as well as expert witnesses expressed first hand concerns about the work readiness of individuals who are unable to pass a pre-employment drug test: