News Story

Why did Michigan lawmakers ban the sale of fake urine?

Bipartisan support is hard to come by in Lansing. But this measure passed by wide, veto-proof margins.

How, in the thick of budget season, how did Michigan lawmakers find the time to ban the sale of fake urine?

Senate Bill 134 was passed in the Michigan House and Senate with more than the two-thirds support it would need to override a Gov. Gretchen Whitmer veto, if she were to veto it. The Michigan Legislature’s website indicates the bill was presented to Whitmer on Thursday morning, in the 11 a.m. hour.

Sen. Curtis VanderWall, R-Ludington, who sponsored the bill, told Michigan Capitol Confidential he expects Whitmer to sign the bill into law. VanderWall has said there’s no reason for someone to have fake urine, other than to get around a drug test. Senate Bill 134 looks to dry up the supply by punishing sellers.

In a state where 10 million people agree the damn roads are a problem, the 150 people we send to Lansing — between the House, Senate, governor and lieutenant governor — can never find a lasting solution.

Yet when it comes time to ban the sale of fake urine, the House agrees 96-10, and the Senate approves it 36-1, according to Michigan Votes. Bipartisanship in our time. How can this be?

VanderWall told CapCon his concern is for manufacturing businesses that use heavy and dangerous equipment. The belief is that a person who could pass a drug test legitimately would stay clean for work, and that someone who used fake urine is putting the company at risk.

“People were taking advantage of it and putting companies in harm’s way,” VanderWall said.

If the bill becomes law, sellers of fake urine could face misdemeanor charges — up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Support of the bill came from two corners: drug testing firm Quest Diagnostics and the Michigan Manufacturers Association.

“Since the use of the devices employed to provide a ‘clean’ urine specimen is not detectable by laboratory tests of specimen validity, individuals using these products are able to totally circumvent the testing process,” wrote R. H. Barry Sample, a senior science consultant at Quest Diagnostics, in May 19 testimony.

“As a scientist who has pursued drug test cheaters, I can tell you how frustrating it is to encounter technology being used to subvert the drug testing process,” Sample added.

“Reportedly, the incident of invalid specimens has doubled over the last 10 years,” reads a House Fiscal Agency analysis. But that’s a number given in testimony, which was not independently verified. Hence the modifier, “reportedly.”

Senate Bill 134 bill does not target buyers of fake urine, or drug users. It would not prevent anyone from getting fake urine from states where it is available.

“We believe it does fix the problem,” VanderWall told CapCon.

If companies don’t want to hire people whose drug tests come back “inconclusive,” no one is forcing them to. Could not companies merely require more frequent drug tests, rather than enlist the power of the state?

The people of Michigan are counting on their Lansing representatives to make their lives better. Does banning the sale of fake urine qualify?

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.