Mr. BILIRAKIS. Mr. Speaker, I introduced today legislation that would prevent the payment of unemployment compensation to individuals fired for drug or alcohol use. Under current federal law, employees who are terminated by their employer for ``misconduct'' cannot collect unemployment compensation. However, since federal law does not clearly define misconduct, each state must develop its own definition. Consequently, more than one-third of states do not currently have a provision to prevent these individuals from receiving benefits, which are funded using scarce taxpayer dollars. These differing standards allow for lax treatment of these individuals when they apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
We must take steps to ensure that a fair and equitable standard is in place for unemployment insurance eligibility. This commonsense legislation would strengthen the unemployment compensation system; ensuring benefits go to those who have lost their job for reasons outside their control. Under this legislation, individuals fired for drug or alcohol use in connection with work would also be required to secure new employment and meet state criteria before becoming eligible for unemployment compensation again. However, it would not require the recipient to undergo drug testing to receive unemployment compensation benefits.
At a time when state and federal resources are strained, rewarding individuals who willfully violate the law and workplace policies is fiscally irresponsible and unfair to law-abiding citizens.
In short, this legislation would create a fair and equitable standard, which not only protects the taxpayer, but also ensures displaced employees who do follow the law and workplace policies can continue to receive this assistance. I look forward to working with my colleagues to move this legislation through Congress.