Drug Policy Press Release

11.16.15

Scapegoating Unemployed People Won’t Help Ohio’s Economy or Those Struggling with Addiction

New Bill Seeks Drug Testing for Access to Unemployment Benefits
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COLUMBUS—A bill introduced in the Ohio House would require drug testing for certain people applying for unemployment compensation. The ACLU of Ohio opposes House Bill 394, calling it unnecessary and harmful to people facing vulnerable circumstances.

“There is absolutely nothing to gain from creating additional barriers for people who need unemployment compensation,” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio. “Instead of providing constructive avenues for those needing help, this unnecessary legislation simply pushes worn-out stereotypes of people seeking public benefits. This bill will increase bureaucracy, waste resources, and needlessly make unemployment benefits even harder to acquire.”

“Unemployment compensation provides a crucial bridge for people living paycheck-to-paycheck to keep the lights on and food on the table. Proposals such as HB 394 show a profound disconnect between our legislators and the realities of today’s economy.”

Other drug-testing programs for SNAP benefits across the country have incurred significant expenses, while finding fewer positive tests than would be expected in the general public.

Read our November 24, 2015 testimony before the Ohio House Insurance Committee.

“Drug-testing for access to benefits is a poor use of public dollars,” Daniels said. “States that have imposed these types of programs waste taxpayer money on drug tests, instead of pursuing real solutions like evidence-based treatment programs. It is impossible to justify spending this money in a way that fails to address economic barriers or the dynamics of substance abuse.”

“There is no reason for lawmakers to include provisions in this bill that do nothing more than spread harmful stereotypes about people who are out of work. Ohio needs vision and leadership from its lawmakers, not tired myths and scapegoat tactics.”

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