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Drug Testing the Downtrodden -- So Hot Right Now

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DRUG TESTING
Texas Gov. Rick Perry addresses the opening session of the 83rd Texas Legislature, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) | AP

Drug testing the poor and unemployed has been a popular idea lately. Now that most state legislatures are back in session for the new year, we may be on the verge of an onslaught of new proposals.

Here's some of what's cooking right now:

-- In Arkansas, "Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson of Benton on Tuesday filed legislation that would require applicants for unemployment benefits to undergo a drug test," the Associated Press reported.

-- In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry (R) has support in the legislature for his plan to drug test both unemployment claimants and people on welfare. Once the legislation starts moving, we'll see if State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) follows through on his promise to make Rick Perry pee in a cup, too.

-- In Arizona, Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has issued an executive order that calls for testing people enrolled in taxpayer-funded training programs. (People in training programs are not the same as people receiving unemployment insurance; workers qualify for the latter only if they lose their jobs through no fault of their own and had been on the job for some time.)

Similar schemes in two other states showed enrollees used drugs at a rate of less than 1 percent. Statistics, data, evidence documenting a widespread drug problem -- that stuff is usually not part of the recipe when these ideas get cooked up.