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Wicker Votes to Reverse Obama Era Rule on Unemployment Drug Testing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted to block an Obama Administration midnight regulation that strips states of the authority to set unemployment drug testing policies. The rule is in the process of being reversed through the use of a resolution of disapproval under the “Congressional Review Act,” which allows Congress to disapprove regulatory actions issued by federal agencies. The Senate passed the resolution by a vote of 51-48.

“This Obama rule undermines the ability of the states to determine their own policies, and runs counter to congressional intent,” Wicker said. “The new Congress has swiftly acted to reverse federal overreach and return this important power back to the states. After years of unnecessary delays, Mississippi should be free to pursue the drug testing reforms outlined by the state legislature and Governor Bryant.”

The bipartisan “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012” permits states to assess state unemployment compensation or insurance program applicants for drug usage if the worker has been fired for using illegal drugs or the worker is applying for a job in an occupation that requires that employees and applicants are drug tested.

Specifically, the law allows states to restrict benefits for such individuals who fail drug tests, as well as design programs to help them overcome their drug-use issues to become work ready. Some states – including Mississippi – used this new statutory authority in an attempt to implement reforms.

Instead, the Department of Labor sought to narrow the circumstances where drug testing is legally required, not merely allowed. The agency’s rule limits the ability of states to conduct drug testing in their programs.

The Congressional Review Act, enacted in 1996, establishes special congressional procedures for disapproving a broad range of regulatory actions issued by federal agencies. If Congress passes a joint resolution disapproving the rule, and the resolution becomes law, the rule cannot take effect or continue in effect. The agency also may not reissue that rule or any substantially similar rule, except under authority of a subsequently enacted law.

3/14/17

Posted March 15, 2017 - 7:30 am

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