Lawmakers discuss drug tests for unemployment benefits
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A bill making its way through the State Capitol says that Texans applying for unemployment benefits should have to take a drug test first.
The author of the bill says it’s a matter of keeping Texas’ unemployed ready for the workforce, but critics say the measure is unnecessary.
“If you're abusing illegal drugs, you're not ready to go back to work," Republic Sen. Tommy Williams said.
The bill would require workers—many of whom already have to undergo a pre-employment drug screening as part of employment—to undergo drug screening before receiving unemployment benefits.
"Why should you have to pee in a cup because your employer needs to downsize or has decided to close altogether?" Becky Moeller, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, said.
The Texas AFL-CIO testified against the bill saying it's unnecessary.
"If you're fired for drug use in Texas, if your employer does a drug test and you fail that, you don't get unemployment anyway," Moeller said. "Florida stopped the process because it was not economically sound. It was costing more than they were saving in benefits."
Some lawmakers have asked to see financial evidence that the plan works before supporting the legislation.
If a person can prove they're currently in a treatment program and are clean, under the bill they would be eligible to receive unemployment insurance.