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Jan Brewer Wants Drug Tests In Arizona Job Training Programs

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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) wants enrollees in the state's job-training programs to prove they're not on drugs.

A recent executive order creating a "Workforce Arizona Council" designed to review the state's job-training efforts calls for the board to "adopt policies that will require persons enrolling in a taxpayer-funded job training program to be drug-tested."

Brewer's office did not respond to a request for more information about her order Wednesday.

Two other states have recently had job trainees pee in cups to prove they're living clean. In each state, the test results suggested unemployed workers in job training actually live a lot cleaner than most people; less than 1 percent of jobseekers had used drugs.

Out of 756 West Virginians who have peed in cups as part of a training program that started last year, only seven tested positive for drugs.

Surveys usually show that roughly 8 percent of the general population uses illicit drugs in a given month, with a significantly higher rate of drug use among people who don't have jobs.

But the results in West Virginia and Indiana seem to refute official claims that drug abuse is a significant problem among the unemployed -- something politicians across the country routinely say they hear from local employers looking for workers. West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat who launched the drug testing in his state with an executive order in April, said at the time that businesses leaders were always telling him "that they have jobs available but the candidates cannot pass a pre-employment drug screening."

A Tomblin spokeswoman noted that fewer people enrolled in the job training program after the testing started last year compared with the same period in 2011, but cautioned that more data and time are needed to assess the drug screening's impact on participation in the program.

At $47 per test, the drug screening has cost the government more than $35,000.

Republicans in the Arizona legislature last year wanted drug testing for unemployment claimants -- a policy also sought in other states -- but relented when they learned blanket testing would run afoul of federal unemployment regulations. However, Congress tweaked that law last February to give a new opening to those states that want to require testing as a condition of receiving jobless benefits. (Legally, there is a lower bar for testing people enrolled in government training programs than those entitled to unemployment insurance.)

This story has been updated to include more recent data from West Virginia's drug screening program.

HuffPost readers: Unemployed? Back to work after being unemployed? Tell us about it -- email arthur@huffingtonpost.com. Please include your phone number if you're willing to be interviewed.

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