Snyder signs law to end jobless aid to drug users

Snyder signs law to stop unemployment checks for drug users if companies report violations

Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law Tuesday denying unemployment benefits to job seekers who fail company drug tests.

The measure is part of a package that gives the state more flexibility to reclaim fraudulent payments. Most of the bills bring Michigan in line with federal requirements, though the drug-testing law is separate.

Businesses don't have to notify the state when job applicants fail a drug test or decline to take it. But if companies pass along the information, applicants not hired because of a failed drug test will lose their checks.

The drug-testing law is in effect for one year as a pilot program.

"These are necessary updates to make sure Michigan is in line with federal requirements," Snyder said in a statement. "They will also help strengthen the unemployment insurance system by reducing fraud."

One new law levies costs on employers that fail to provide timely and accurate information to the Unemployment Insurance Agency and cause improper payments to be made. Another law cancels benefits as of the date recipients commit fraud rather than the date the state becomes aware of it, forcing recipients to pay back the money.

The recovery of money is waived if the improper payments were the result of administrative error, lack of employer wage information or the recipients are in poverty.

Roughly 112,000 Michigan residents are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. The maximum benefit is $362 a week.

Critics have said the drug-testing bill was a solution in search of a problem and say Republicans demonize certain people to score political points.

"If you were really interested in helping people gain employment, you wouldn't kick them and their family off" unemployment, Sen. Coleman Young II, a Detroit Democrat, said during a debate earlier this month. "You would offer them drug treatment so they can lead a sober life."

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Online:

Public Acts 142-47 of 2013: http://1.usa.gov/He0j4M

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