State Senate Republicans today salvaged a portion of a bill that would have required drug testing for all welfare recipients, 1200 WOAI news reports.
State Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) led the drive to approve drug testing for recipients of state unemployment benefits. Democrats in the Texas House last night managed to kill the larger bill, which could have mandated drug testing for all Texas welfare recipients, including recipients of food stamps, housing subsidies, and Aid to Families With Dependent Children.
Texas Association of Business President Bill Hammond praised lawmakers for managing to pas a portion of the bill.
"A claimant qualifying for Unemployment Insurance benefits must have lost their job through no fault of their own and have to be available and ready for work," Hammond said. "If claimants work in industries that drug test and cannot pass a drug test, they in essence are not ready and available to work."
House Democrats fought against the larger bill, using a technique called 'chubbing,' in which motions are presented on a bill to prevent a vote by a mandated deadline, in this case midnight this morning. The House had approved the portion of the bill allowing drug testing for unemployment benefits before the 'chubbing' effort killed the rest of the proposal.
Opponents cite a similar bill passed in Florida two years ago, in which the state spent $175 million drug testing welfare recipients, only to find that less than 2% of them were using illegal drugs.
Marijuana is included in the list of drugs that Unemployment Insurance recipients in Texas will not be allowed to use, even if they use it in Colorado or Washington, where it's use is legal.
A judge eventually threw out the Florida law.