You gotta wonder why they even tried.
Lawmakers Monday stripped a provision from an unemployment bill that would suspend benefits for applicants who skip or fail a drug test.
On that same day a federal court in Florida put a law that required drug tests for welfare recipients on hold pending the resolution of a lawsuit claiming that the requirement is unconstitutional.
"The Court concludes that preliminarily enjoining what appears likely to be deemed to be an unconstitutional intrusion on the Fourth Amendment rights of (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) applicants serves the public interest and outweighs whatever minimal harm a preliminary injunction might visit upon the state," a U.S. District Court in Orlando wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit in Florida on behalf of welfare recipients, and the Wisconsin chapter panned the proposal to drug test unemployment beneficiaries here. And opposition from the ACLU in recent years has killed nearly every other drug testing requirement around the nation.
In addition to the lawsuit in Florida, the ACLU filed suit against that state's governor, Republican Rick Scott, over an executive order that requires random drug testing of state employees. That practice has also been put on hold.
In 2009, courts struck down laws mandating the drug testing of teachers in North Carolina and Louisiana, both of them challenged by the ACLU.
And in 1999 Michigan enacted a requirement that all welfare applicants submit to drug testing. The law lasted five weeks before a judge put a stop to it, again in response to an ACLU lawsuit.
But with Wisconsin's unemployment program $1.18 billion in the red, Republicans wanted to save money, and it's possible that drug testing would have done that. Of the 268 people who were tested in the five weeks the Michigan law was in effect, 21 tested positive, all but three for marijuana. That's a failure rate of about 8 percent.
In Wisconsin last year, $3.11 billion was paid out in unemployment benefits. Take that 8 percent failure rate, assume everyone received the same amount of benefits, and the state would have paid out nearly $250 million less.