Today, U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce introduced H.R. 1277, the Accountability in Unemployment Act. This legislation seeks to combat abuse of the federal unemployment compensation program by requiring unemployment beneficiaries to pass a drug test.
“For too long, our government has been avoiding the issue of accountability for the federal unemployment compensation program,” said Pearce. “I constantly hear from New Mexicans that workers are required to pass a drug test to get a job, but those receiving government assistance are not.”
Pearce continued, “The federal government has a moral obligation to help those with drug dependencies get clean instead of turning a blind eye to a potential problem. Hard-working middle class Americans are struggling to make ends meet, and should not have to pay the way for those who have drug addictions.”
Rep. Pearce has been contacted by numerous New Mexicans, including small business owners, whose personal experience supports the need for this legislation. Katy Petermeier, owner of Occupational Medicine 360, thanked the Congressman for introducing the bill. “As a small business owner, I know the difficulty of finding qualified, drug-free employees,” said Petermeier. “The sad truth is that many employers hold their employees accountable to be drug free, while federal welfare programs do not. Rep. Pearce’s legislation is a responsible and commonsense approach that makes sure taxpayer money is used responsibly, and that those who need help and jobs are able to get both.”
H.R. 1277 requires that all applicants be tested in order to begin receiving benefits and those already receiving benefits are tested within 3 months. The cost of testing is free to those who test negative, reimbursed to them in their first unemployment benefits check.