Michael Breitbach

A senate committee has voted to let Iowa businesses get hair samples from employees, to test for possible drug use. Iowa law already lets companies demand blood or urine samples from workers, for random drug tests. Seven Republicans on the panel voted to advance the bill to the full senate

“Forty-seven states currently allow the testing of hair for drugs,” Senator Michael Breitbach, a Republican from Strawberry Point, said. “It’s another tool in the employer’s tool box to make sure that they provide a safe and viable workplace.”

Four Democrats on the committee voted no, arguing hair retains evidence of drug use for months, even years. Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, said hair sometimes has a “long history.”

“I may have just started working with you this month…I’ve got long hair and you analyze my hair and it shows all kinds of fun,” Bisignano said. “You could go back two years, three years.” Bisignano says that’s not fair.

Breitbach, the bill’s manager, says the industry standard is to test a hair sample that’s an inch and a half long — which would reveal potential drug use for up to three months.