Sen. Coleman Young, a Detroit Democrat, said the new rule is an effort to 'score political points' or 'promote a political agenda' at the expense of folks who've lost their jobs. (Dale G. Young / The Detroit News)
Lansing — Jobless people who test positive for drugs could lose their state unemployment benefits under a bill approved Thursday in the Michigan Senate.
The new rule, approved 28-10 with most Senate Democrats opposed, would go into effect immediately and last one year. It’s part of a package of unemployment insurance reforms passed by the Senate on Thursday.
The House version, HB 4952, passed 82-24 on Sept. 26, now goes back to the chamber for consideration of changes made by the Senate on Thursday.
The Senate version wouldn’t make drug testing mandatory. Rather, people could lose benefits if they tested positive for drug use as part of the application process for a job.
Sen. Coleman Young, D-Detroit, called it “a solution in search of a problem” during a relatively brief Senate debate. He said the new rule is an effort to “score political points” or “promote a political agenda” at the expense of people who’ve lost their jobs.
Young said other states that have required drug testing for the unemployed have repealed the mandate when it led to a flood of court cases costly to small businesses.
Lawmakers in Michigan are trying to avoid that situation by making their proposal voluntary, as well as giving it a test drive for a year to see how it works.
If someone applied for a job at a company that requires drug testing as a condition of employment, and then tested positive, he or she could lose all or part of his or her unemployment benefits.
But the bill wouldn’t require a company to report an applicant’s positive drug test to the state agency that handles unemployment benefits. It also wouldn’t require any company to drug test job applicants.
Five other bills making unemployment insurance rules revisions passed the Senate with little opposition.