Arkansas Senate OKs Unemployment Testing, Benefit Cut

Apr 8, 2013

The Arkansas Senate has approved proposals to cut the maximum unemployment benefits the state pays out and to subject some unemployment recipients to random drug testing.

The Senate voted 19-12 Monday and approved the bill by Republican Sen. Bart Hester of Cave City. It would cut the maximum weekly benefits Arkansas pays from $451 to $325.

Hester says the state's benefits are much higher than surrounding states, but Democrats criticized the move as unfair to unemployed workers.  

The Senate also approved a bill by Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson of Benton that would require unemployment recipients to agree to submit to random drug testing.

Hutchinson has said the testing would cost the state less than $30,000 a year to administer. Hutchinson's proposal passed on a 25-5 vote.