Lansing— Gov. Rick Snyder signed bills Tuesday that penalize improper unemployment benefits collection or drug use by jobless pay recipients.
Supporters say the six bills comply with federal unemployment insurance regulations and save money. Opponents claim they pick on people who already have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay bills.
“These are necessary updates to make sure Michigan is in line with federal requirements,” Snyder said. “They will also help strengthen the unemployment insurance system by reducing fraud.”
Under new unemployment insurance provisions Snyder signed into law:
■In a one-year pilot, companies can report job-seekers who test drug-positive or refuse drug tests. Such a finding can disqualify the job-seekers from jobless benefits.
■State penalties are increased for folks committing jobless benefit fraud, but recovery of improperly paid benefits is waived for those in poverty or if the payments resulted from administrative error or a business’ failure to provide information.
■Employers must reimburse the state for benefits paid improperly if the employers didn’t provide timely information to Michigan’s unemployment agency.
■Fifteen percent of revenue recovered in fraud investigations goes to the unemployment insurance trust fund; the rest is paid into a penalty-and-interest account.
■Employers that repeatedly fail to provide timely information can be charged added fees.
The drug-related provisions sparked the most dissent. Lawmakers will consider whether to continue that provision when the trial period ends in a year.