01/22/2013 04:48 pm ET Updated Jun 13, 2014

Drug Testing Unemployment Measures On Tap In More States

-- Oklahoma State Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant) has filed legislation to drug test people who apply for unemployment insurance. It's all about confronting addiction, he said.

"We have to do what we can to discourage it as well as ensure we are not actually spending money support it" Roberts said, according to

Last year Congress gave states leeway to test unemployment claimants looking for work in fields that regularly require drug testing as a condition of employment. But the U.S. Labor Department won't issue guidance to states until later this year, and until then, federal regulations just say NO to drug testing as a condition of receiving benefits. If a state plods ahead with a testing scheme that doesn't gel with federal regs, state businesses can lose out on federal tax credits. Unemployed Oklahomans probably won't be peeing into cups anytime soon.

-- Kansas Republicans want testing for people seeking either unemployment insurance or welfare, formally known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. It's all about compassion, said incoming State Senate Vice President Jeff King (R-Independence).

"This is not meant to be punitive in any way," King said, according to the Wichita Eagle. "This is to identify people with substance abuse problems and get them the help and job skills they need to get out and be productive in the job market."

-- New Hampshire Republicans want welfare drug testing. State Rep. Donald LeBrun (R-Nashua) said it's all about compassion and fighting addiction.

"I'm not trying to take anything away from anyone who qualifies," LeBrun said, according to the Union Leader. "I'm trying to identify people who have problems and have them treated."

Similar proposals are cooking elsewhere. Most states have seen some form of welfare or unemployment testing proposals in the past few years. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a great background briefing on the welfare proposals; the National Association of State Workforce Agencies has a great one on unemployment insurance proposals.

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