Look into drug testing order

An editorial from The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING, W.Va. — Whether you agreed with him or not, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s 2012 mandate that participants in WorkForce West Virginia programs be required to take drug tests was – or appeared to be at the time – an order. So why was it not carried out?

Earlier this month, legislators heard a report from WorkForce West Virginia Deputy Director Valerie Comer. She noted that her agency has served 114,520 people seeking jobs. Nearly 44,700 of them were given information about specific job opportunities.

Comer went on to say that during the past year, the agency has handled 1,205 drug tests. Fewer than 1 percent of those taking them failed the tests.

According to a published report, that prompted state Sen. Bob Williams, D-Taylor, to ask why only 1,205 people were required to undergo drug testing.

Comer replied that only WorkForce West Virginia clients seeking reimbursement for job training tuition are required to take the tests. “We don’t test everybody who comes in looking for work,” she added.

Why not? Tomblin never said anything about such a limit on testing.

At the time, state officials were hearing many complaints from employers about job applicants who could not pass drug tests. It is a common refrain throughout the state.

So why did WorkForce West Virginia officials limit the drug testing? Legislators should find out.

If Tomblin later amended his order, fine. But if he did not, WorkForce West Virginia appears to be thumbing its nose at the state’s chief executive.

Again, whether you agree with drug testing of those receiving benefits such as those offered by WorkForce West Virginia or not, an order from the governor is supposed to be obeyed. If that is not occurring, both Tomblin and legislators should be furious – and should discipline those responsible.

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