September 4, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

PHOENIX, AZ – Saying budget proposals to drug test welfare recipients and deny benefits to domestic partners are misguided and discriminatory, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona today sent a letter to Governor Jan Brewer urging her to veto H.B. 2013.

 

"This proposal comes at high price, both financially and morally," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona.  "By stripping state employees and their families of benefits and singling out welfare recipients for costly drug testing, the state is creating additional financial burdens for thousands of Arizonans, including hardworking employees and some of the neediest women and children across the state, at a time when people can least afford it."

In its two-page veto letter, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona argues that suspicionless, mandatory drug testing is an invasion of privacy and a waste of state funds. The ACLU successfully challenged a Michigan law calling for the random drug testing of welfare recipients. In addition, New York and Maryland discarded their random drug testing plans after finding that questionnaires were more cost-effective.  Public officials in Louisiana, Oregon, Alabama and Iowa also decided that there were other less invasive, more cost-effective methods of identifying drug abuse.

The ACLU of Arizona called the proposal to strip unmarried domestic partners of state and university employees of their health insurance benefits "an unreasonable step backward for Arizona's goal of attracting and maintaining a highly-skilled and stable work force." The organization also points out that "by providing health insurance coverage for married employees and denying access to employees' domestic partners and their children, the state is effectively denying equal pay for equal work."

The ACLU letter to Brewer can be found on-line at: www.acluaz.org

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