Texas State Legislature approves drug tests for unemployment benefits

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The Texas State Legislature approved a bill that would require workers who lose their job to pass a drug screening in order to receive unemployment benefits Saturday, according to news reports.

Under the legislation, which is now awaiting the signature of Gov. Rick Perry, unemployed persons applying for benefits will need to fill out a questionnaire and, if their answers are found to be suspicious, will be required to take a drug test.

Those who pass would be eligible for benefits, while those who fail would not. But if an individual fails the drug test, they have an opportunity to retake the drug test at a later date.

Perry has been a supporter of the proposal. In November, he joined with the sponsor of the legislation, Republican state Sen. Tommy Williams, to also call for drug testing for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants.

“Texas taxpayers will not subsidize or tolerate illegal drug abuse. Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can’t go to a Texan who needs it for housing, child care or medicine,” Perry said.

“Being on drugs makes it much harder to begin the journey to independence, which only assures individuals remain stuck in the terrible cycle of drug abuse and poverty,” he added.

A bill from Republican state Sen. Jane Nelson to require drug testing for TANF failed in the State House earlier in the week, The Texas Tribune reported.

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