Never gonna happen…
Michigan Republican House member Tom McMillin who is on the House Education, Financial Liability Reform and Regulatory Reform committees is someone with whom I rarely agree. His attacks on education, in particular, make him one of the most reviled Republicans in the House. However, he has introduced legislation in this session and in the last session that I completely, emphatically, and 100% agree with.
Republicans have been on a tear in Michigan to require anyone receiving unemployment or welfare to pass a drug test. By their estimation, if you are in need of help, that puts you into a special category of people that must be tested for illegal drug use. I find the concept abhorrent, demeaning, and antithetical to American values. However, it appears that this will soon become law.
Rep. McMillin’s legislation, first introduced in March of 2012 and again this past spring, would require CEOs and other executives in companies receiving help from the state government to be drug tested, as well. Here’s the language of the 2013 legislation:
Beginning October 1, 2012, the fund shall establish requirements to ensure that any recipient of funds, including loan, a grant, or funding or other assistance for a project, submits to and tests negative for substance abuse under a substance abuse testing program prescribed by the fund. As used in this section, any recipient who is not an individual includes all of the following:
(a) For a corporation, the president and the chief executive officer, and each managerial employee who directly reports to the president or chief executive officer.
(b) For a partnership, all partners and each managerial employee who directly reports to a partner.
(c) For a limited partnership, the general and limited partners and each managerial employee who directly reports to a general or limited partner.
(d) For a limited liability company, all members and each managerial employee who directly reports to a member.
While I hate the legislation that requires people receiving unemployment payments to take a drug test — that’s insurance, by the way, not a hand-out — if Republicans are going to be consistent in their approach, McMillin’s bill should be a no-brainer. Which is, of course, why it will NEVER pass. It never even got a vote in the House last year and very likely won’t get one this year, either. The Livingston County Press & Argus listed it as “16 of the silliest laws introduced in the Michigan legislature this year” and put it into the category of “When pigs fly”.
We all know why. Corporate interests control our state legislature and our state government. There is no way these wealthy corporatists are going to allow this legislation to move forward and to demean themselves in this way. That’s only for the poor folk, those with no power or voice in our state government.
McMillin has a decent piece of legislation here but, just like the rest of us, he knows it will never see the light of day. It simply allows him to claim moral purity at no risk to himself or his political career.
More’s the pity.
UPDATE: The Detroit Free Press has a scathing op-ed on the move to force people collecting unemployment to under go drug tests:
There’s something about kicking people when they’re down that appeals far too easily to Republican lawmakers. […]
No one would argue that people ought to be able to do drugs and collect unemployment benefits. But addicts need help — help that’s often in short supply. Michigan spends far more on prosecution and imprisonment of drug users than it does on recovery programs. But yet folks active in every strata of law enforcement will tell you that treatment and recovery programs keep addicts out of the courts and out of prison, saving money in the long run.
Cutting addicts off public benefits does nothing to get them off drugs and back into the work force. In fact, derailing whatever fragile stability an addict has found will probably make that addict less likely to become productive again. […]
Michigan’s real problems are the lack of jobs (which persists despite a rebounding economy and big tax cuts at the state level), lack of training for jobs and the imbalance in economic opportunity in the hardest-hit places.
It may be news to the GOP, but poor people didn’t get that way on purpose, and most drug users want to get clean. Punishing them for their conditions isn’t just cruel and short-sighted. It’s awful public policy that wastes potential and money.
It’d be nice if at least one house of the Legislature in Lansing might recognize that, or if Gov. Rick Snyder imposed that point of view by vetoing more of the strident nonsense that comes across his desk.
And, of course, voters themselves have an important recourse. It will present itself again in November 2014.