Capital Budget Passes Senate, And Lawmakers Again Looking Over Plan To Drug-Test Some Unemployed Ohioans

State senators have nearly unanimously approved the $2.6 billion capital budget bill that funds improvements to school buildings, roads, bridges and parks. A group of faith leaders came to the Statehouse to call for support for renewable energy, as lawmakers prepare to hear a proposal that would extend the freeze on green energy standards for electric utilities to 2019. And this week state officials held the first hearing to gather public input on a proposal to require 1.5 million low-income Ohioans on Medicaid to pay monthly premiums.

After several months of no movement, there’s new committee activity on a bill that would require some people applying for unemployment benefits to submit to drug tests.  The bill would set up a two year pilot program in Crawford, Darke and Butler counties to screen applicants for cash assistance for drug abuse and testing. Supporters say this will identify drug addicts and help them get into treatment while not punishing families. But opponents say it’ll be expensive to catch potentially very few drug addicts, that there aren’t enough places in treatment programs, and that the program could deter jobless people from applying for the benefits they need. One of the bill's co-sponsors is Rep. Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster). One of its critics is Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights), who's a member of the committee hearing the bill.

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