A bill by Sen. Bill Pritchard, R-Elkins, that would require a drug test before someone could receive unemployment benefits from the state failed in the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee late this morning on a voice vote. Pritchard said he did not call for a roll call because he "knew where the votes were." Holly Dickson, of ACLU Arkansas, spoke against the bill saying it was unconstitutional.
"Our concerns about this bill are not only that it would insult Arkansans, but it would violate their constitutional rights to privacy and to be free from an unreasonable search," Dickson said. "The law on drug testing is there must be reasonable suspicion of the particular person to be tested as well as a substantial governmental need before that drug test can be constitutional... Just because it seems like a good idea doesn't mean that it's necessarily constitutional."
Dickson said Arkansas law affords even greater rights to individuals than the federal constitution. Pritchard said he just didn't do a good enough job of explaining this bill to the committee and might possibly bring the bill back up when the committee reconvenes again this afternoon.