ATA welcomes hair testing requirements in Senate-passed opioid bill

With the strong support of the American Trucking Associations, the US Senate, on September 17, passed comprehensive legislation aimed at combating the nation’s opioid crisis.

Notably, the bill, which cleared the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan approval, includes provisions on hair testing which ATA has long advocated for and worked closely with Senate Commerce Committee staff to secure in the legislation.

The bill would direct the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to report to Congress on its progress issuing guidelines for hair testing. Upon enactment, the Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required within 30 days to report to the Commerce Committee on the status for hair testing guidelines, the reasons for delay in issuing guidelines, and a schedule--complete with benchmarks and an estimated date of delivery--for completion of the guidelines.

The bill also contains reporting requirements on the development of the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and a deadline for completing work on oral fluids testing.

“We thank Senator Thune and his staff for their continued persistence and commitment on this issue of hair testing,” said Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice-president of advocacy. “Our fleets need to depend on--and need the government to recognize--the most accurate, reliable and failsafe drug testing methods available. The time has come to get this done.”

Federal law requires trucking companies to drug test new drivers and randomly test existing drivers. Currently, SAMHSA only recognizes the test method of urinalysis, despite the inherent advantages of hair testing, which provides employers with a longer detection window, easier collection and results that are harder to adulterate. The FAST Act required HHS to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair testing by December 4, 2016--a deadline which was ignored by the Obama Administration.

The Senate must now reconcile the bill it passed yesterday with a companion bill in the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law by the President.

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