Posted in: News, Politics

South Carolina to Require Community Service, Drug Tests For Unemployment Benefits

unemployment benefits south carolina

As the ideological rift in America becomes ever wider, it seems two camps are emerging by and large- one that champions workers and identifies with their struggle, and one that feels the lower classes in America are contributing more to its financial woes than the upper ones.

A place where this dichotomy is highlighted is unemployment, which seems to in recent years been equated with welfare- even though workers pay in to it should the circumstance of job loss come to pass… hence the name “unemployment insurance.” In an economy with a sluggish recovery often referred to as “jobless,” the average length of unemployment has skyrocketed over what it was in recent decades. And what seems to be at the heart of the debate is whether those who use unemployment- meant to keep a family afloat while a job is found to replace the lost one- are languishing on it at taxpayer expense or using it is as it is intended, to stay solvent and out of poverty.

So it seems an inordinate form of cruelty to take someone who has just endured a life-changing job loss and to force them to submit to drug tests. But that’s exactly what the state of South Carolina is doing, and more perplexingly, they want to mandate up to sixteen hours per week of community service- often used by courts to punish low-level offenders- as a deterrent. A deterrent for claiming the insurance you paid in to in order to protect yourself if you company downsizes. Abhorrent.

This sort of ignorance as to the point of the law is unforgivable, but statements by South Carolina Republican Senator Kevin Bryant just catapult the know-nothingness into new levels of dumbassery. When pressed on the fact that such regulations conflict with federal law, Bryant said:

“It’s time to start pushing back. I can’t base how I vote on a bill on what some activist, liberal judge is going to do.”

Sen. Paul Campbell seems to willfully ignore the burdens a bill like this would place on a family with children- particularly single parent households- who may not be able to afford the childcare that would be needed to perform community service on their now-reduced income. Campbell says:

“We’re not trying to be derogatory. We’re trying to help them go from the unemployed to employed ranks.”

To be sure, there is a certain loss of relevancy one feels when one has been let go or “made redundant,” as the Brits say. But passing bills infringing on the rights of South Carolina residents, placing an undue burden on families in crisis, seems to be inordinately cruel in times of stunning economic hardship for Americans. Do you agree with South Carolina’s measures to punish the unemployed?

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34 Responses to “South Carolina to Require Community Service, Drug Tests For Unemployment Benefits”

  1. Sue Sodomin

    Community service should not be required since one needs that time to look for a job. That being said, drug tests should be required, after all you usually need to pass a drug screening to qualify to for a job. It could even save time in the hiring process if you get some prospects.

  2. Penny Frank

    Drug tests should be required but not community service. Community Service seems to me to be counter to the idea of being on unemployment – you need time to go find a job.

  3. Lonnie Mixson

    How is this an "inordinate cruelty"? Get a grip on reality and quit the whining.

  4. Julia Hamilton Wallace

    Why would community service be a punishment? There are a lot of non-profit agencies out there who could use help, especially from mature, reliable individuals. I am sure, that with some planning, community service opportunities could be worked out where children could accompany their parent and could be serviced while the parent volunteers (maybe at a community library or a pre-school). I work for a non-profit, and I can assure you that the "volunteer" generation is on the decline. We need to reinstall the importance of volunteering in the community or we will see a lot of organizations and services go by the wayside before we know it. Volunteering can lead to a renewed sense of self-worth and pride and could serve to open the door to a world of new opportunities for those involved.

  5. Edward Blankenbiller

    Unemployment is paid for by the employee, and the employer.Why is the state sticking thier nose in this to begin with.Does S Caraline drug test thier wellfare recipeants?For that matter how bout thier senators.

  6. Judi Sullivant

    I don't think community service or drug test should be required. I'm 58 yrs. old and everyone I know takes pills or smokes pot. we're from that generation and it's hard to find jobs as it is without puting people through humilation cause they are out of work. no matter if u get drugs from a docter or on the street it's still a drug addict. I can't even aford to see a docter, pay rent or eat. I take it one day at a time without any family moral support or a roof over my head. so no don't agree to drug testing unless some one is working high or putting people in danger cause I'll say again some people get drugs from dr. and say they are not addicts cause my dr. gives the pills to them. bull shit

  7. Edward Blankenbiller

    This has to be one of stupidest things I've read about in a long time.Senator Bryant is completely out of touch.Let's by all means make things harder on the unemployed.

  8. Denise Gronset Lenert

    I am for drug testing, not a problem. Do you have children? I have 3, a place that is looking for mature help does not want a 5 and 7 year old child fighting and screaming out of boredom. Helping out at a preschool would be fine and fun for them. I worked at a day care, back ground checks are required. States have laws as to how many children per teacher is allowed. I wouldn't bring my children to a homeless shelter, I would be busy watching them. I can't bring them on the road to pick up trash.

  9. Carol Votaw Colchin

    I see nothing wrong with it. You have to have it to get a job so why not to get unemployment. Make sure the money is going for what it should and not drugs. Welfare should also be tested. How long does it take to have a blood test for drugs. Not long so get real.

  10. Michelle Ogden Schlott

    So now states are requiring drug tests for unemployment benefits? Yet they won't pass testing for welfare recipients? Wtf!! That shit is messed up!!!

  11. Wanda Crocker

    I disagree with both! When they make people on Food stamps and welfare piss in a cup then I will, until then mine will go down the toilet with these stupid rules! As far as community service, I did'nt commit a crime so therefore I do not agree with it.They are making it harder and harder to get unemployment so people will say to heck with it and not try and get it. I've worked since I was 17, I'm now 52 and been unemployeed since Sept. I resent being treated like I'm the one cheating the system!

  12. Teresa A Mozingo

    Wanda, I agree. It is unemployment for pete's sake. Why should you have to take a drug test or do community service. Are they going to pay the childcare for those having to do community service? We all know that people do not get enough unemployment to pay child care. You didn't ask to be unemployed or commit a crime, so what's with these stupid rules. We get more socialist every day. Usa is becoming a difficult country to live in.

  13. Ryan Lambert

    so nobody minds if the unemployed spend all their money on booze and cigarettes, since these drugs will not prevent them from picking up their checks? How often are they going to test? Cocaine leaves the system in a couple days, so unless they test randomly and regularly, this will stop no one from getting a check. Florida just found out that the cost of doing drug testing far out weighs any potential savings that might come by keeping drug users from collecting welfare.
    Of course, what you want is crack heads feigning for drugs and short on cash roaming the streets, cause that's good for the crime rate.
    Community Service as a requirement to get the money YOU contribute? It's ridiculous. I'm all for helping in the community, but forcing people to do it, to get money that was theirs to begin with? Its the disconnect of Republicans, believing the unemployed are to blame, and need to be managed like children, aren't they supposed to be the one's against Government intruding in people's lives? How bout they do something about the Educational system in SC, as it ranks towards the bottom of the Naton. That would go a lot further to helping make the people of SC successful than worrying about some guy who just lost his job smoking a joint.

  14. Karpat Zoltan

    OK, so let's say that someone lost his job and cannot find another one, so he got addicted to alcohol or drugs. What solution does the state offer him? An extended middle-finger? The way I see it, he will surely continue to consume his remaining resources until he becomes homeless, hopeless and permanently jobless. Who employs hobos, seriously?

  15. Judy K. Bowden

    Yea for South Carolinians, they seem to pick some winners in their hunt for qualified legislators. Too bad they weren't educated in basic civics! This has got to be the most dehumanizing thing I have ever heard of doing to someone who has already been kicked in the teeth!

  16. Judy K. Bowden

    Spoken like a true blue Republican Tea Party member there Julia. The key word in your paragraph is volunteer. I volunteer many hours to my community but I would be really pissed off if someone told me I had to volunteer to get the money that is mine in the first place!!!

  17. Denise Gronset Lenert

    Judy K. Bowden I volunteer too. Monthly community supper, and other community outreach. I live in a very small town. I do it, because I want too. Like you, with joy to serve. I don't have too. I am not a criminal. I'm a tax payer. If I could find long term employment, I would be paying more taxes, but I would be happy working!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Julia Hamilton Wallace

    Denise Gronset Lenert, I do have children – three, just like you, however, they are all grown. I fully understand where you are coming from, my boys were all young once and sometimes, just leaving the house seemed like a daunting task. I simply take issue with the article stating that “community service” is a punishment. It is precisely that attitude that has left many communities with a severe deficit when it comes to providing the volunteer manpower needed to make the services of the many agencies and organizations that benefit the unemployed, the homeless, those with any type of special needs widely available and affordable so that they can best service those that they are intended to serve.

  19. Denise Gronset Lenert

    Julia Hamilton Wallace I do volunteer, I am productive. I volunteered in the same programs, when I worked too. It was harder, but it's always the same people volunteering. I like them, it's like a family to me. work or no work. It's who I am. I do have to decline if my husband isn't home to watch the kid's. I have one daughter who is 22. I was a single Mom with her. The economy was better with her, I worked hard. We had a good life.Little league, I don't need a sitter. If the govt. demands I do this, at the time they decide. I would HATE to volunteer, ever again!

  20. Carole McCormick

    I agree with you ….I've been laid off work and have not committed a crime…I refuse to be treated like I have something to prove to anyone….all of you who think I should be tested need your heads examined for your judgemental nonsense.

  21. Gayle Smith

    I do not believe in drug testing. It is an invasion of privacy and humiliating. Period. This began in the 80's. Didn't agree with it then and still don't. Correct me if I am wrong but Florida has been doing this to their welfare recipients. 96% have passed.

  22. Great in the Kitchen

    In Michigan, the employer pays the unemployment insurance – NOT the employee. Community service-no, drug tests-no, unless employee was fired/let go because of absenteeism or lateness.

  23. Erin Brockway

    This is disheartening. Drug tests are great and all, but those are pretty expensive. Depending on the test, the cost could be from about $40 to $75 per person. One time. Multiply that by how many weeks that person is unemployed, and that is what taxpayers get to pay. And that leaves the person who should be spending time looking for A JOB doing 16 hours of community service a week as well as waiting for their turn every week in a clinic so they can pee in a cup on the taxpayers dime. Not to mention how degrading that would be to someone who lost a job, which is already a major blow to self-esteem. I don't know about SC, but in my state the employer does not have to have a reason to fire an employee, so it can often be through no fault of their own.

  24. Tracy Yeoman

    Why should I be made to do community service just because the hardware store I worked for closed? Maybe they should make the company owners do the community service since they're the ones closing the factories, etc. Or how about the politicians that vote to allow our jobs to be sent overseas? Sick to death of feeling like I'm doing something wrong by collecting the unemployment I've paid into since 1980!

  25. Leroy Watt

    I don't have a problem with the drug testing. I have to do it to keep my job, the military has to do it, alot of businesses make it a condition of employment. If you aren't doing anything wrong it shouldn't matter. As for the community service, well that is something else. I don't feel that people should be forced to do that unless it is by a judge because they screwed up in some way. Living here in South Carolina is not always popular, but just wait until tomorrow. There will be another state in the news for something. Coincedentally, I only see one other post from South Carolina, so I guess the rest of you can rest easy.

  26. Linden Herrick Peterson

    Employees don't usually pay into unemployment insurance. It is normally a tax paid solely by the employer.

  27. Harold O'Shields

    Here's your reality check, Lonnie. Ppl that are getting UI now, at one time were working. They worked and they paid into an insurance fund. This is the source of funding for UI. Nor do they get receive UI forever. Drug testing became a necessity for the employer b/c of the costs and possible theft of company property by hiring drug users. Where does drug testing fit into requirements for unemployed workers? So then it gets into the 4th amendment area, as a fed judge ruled on Florida. Drug tests now, but where will the Govt. stop? Beer, cigs, porno? They're not necessities. Should ppl getting UI not take part of Red Lobster's shrimp extravaganza they shouldn't spend all that money going out , because all they need is bread and ramen noodles. Now Lonnie, how much whining would you do if your employer made you "volunteer" 16 extra hours a week cleaning bathrooms but only get paid for 40 hrs? Or if your employer made you "volunteer" 16 hours a week at a church or non-profit whose beliefs go against yours? Think about it. You're talking about someone you may have been working beside just a few months ago, but now that person is below you.

  28. Lonnie Mixson

    First off, beer,cigs and porno aren't illegal so what exactly is your point? Last time i checked, Red Lobster wasn't illegal either. And since i AM performing a function by having a job, why would my employer have me "volunteer" for anything?
    Lastly, how is that person below me? I have to work for what i take home AND take a drug test for the privledge. Sounds like we're on even terms to me with these laws.Judging by your comments, i'm guessing you couldn't pass a drug test right now.

  29. Lonnie Mixson

    Judy K. Bowden , spoken like a true liberal entitlement freak. That money is NOT yours. It was paid into the system by your employer, not you.

  30. Lonnie Mixson

    Ryan, again YOU did NOT contribute that money. YOUR EMPLOYER DID!!! And over the course of time, you will draw more out of it than they put in it by far.

  31. Eric Standifer

    Everyone is entitled to free money? Work for it don't mooch off everyone else's commitment to success. I am appalled that someone collecting unemployment is given a chance to work for their money would say- "no thanks just give me a check- I don't want to work for it!". Lazy Americans bringing our country down to poverty. We have to tax everyone else to pay for it. Where else is this money coming from? We are in debt, our citizens are in debt. It is time to wake up and do something! I have been on unemployment before- 9 months in fact. I worked hard and found a job. Don't think I understand both perspectives.

    Full time service shouldn't be expected, time to actually LOOK for a job is critical. If all is required, part time from everyone would make a dramatic impact. But also, Community Service doesn't mean JUST picking up the highway litter. This should also include other blue collar, and yes even WHITE collar jobs. Government jobs and non-profit jobs. Also maybe even throw in a possible clause where companies could file for help from the government, and use these people like a temp service- with possible permanent status.

    I understand the child day care issue. In those cases this proposal should take it into account and provide alternate positions only available to dependents that require day care, such as work from home positions, free day care facilities at place of work, or vouchers. I don't have to do the math to know that paying for daycare loss would outweigh the gain in getting all the work done! Pay for their daycare, work for a check!

    If they physically can't work for their unemployment check sorry- but that is medicare and disabilities topic NOT unemployment.

    Don't just spat out hatred for change when creativity and possible resolution to our nations' problems could be but a few thoughts away. People think more on these topics, don't just blindly react like sheep.

  32. Eric Standifer

    Also, it looks like "community service" makes people think of inmate's chain gang or something. It will never work if people's perceptions of helping the community is deemed a punishment. Backlash will go on forever. Change the name I guess. Don't name it "Rescue America and the Workforce Jobs" cause obviously those people would never sign up.