New drug testing requirements for some unemployment benefits - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

New drug testing requirements for some unemployment benefits

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Amarillo, TX - Drug testing for unemployment benefits for some in Texas will now be required by law.  And critics are questioning whether that's the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Earlier today (Jun. 14), Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 21, which requires drug testing for certain applicants.  But critics are saying the law itself is redundant and unnecessary and could cost more than it's worth.

The law will require a drug test for applicants who are trying to find work in fields like aviation and truck driving, that are already generally required by federal law to drug test potential employees.  The argument for that requirement is that if someone can't pass a drug test, they're not suitable for the kind of work they're looking for.

The law allows exceptions for those undergoing or willing to undergo a substance abuse program and for prescription medications that could register a false positive.  And someone who fails a drug test can re-apply after one month.

The dissenting opinion in the House said Texas taxpayers would ultimately end up picking up the tab for relatively few employers, but a fiscal analysis said putting the law into practice could be done with resources we already have.

"Our system isn't established to carry those who are unwilling to work," said Gov. Perry in a statement.  "Our system is designed to provide assistance to people through a difficult time in their lives, not subsidize those who would misuse this assistance to abuse drugs."

The law will take effect September 1st, and the drug testing will start in February of next year.

If you'd like more specifics about who will be required to test, you can find a bill analysis by following the link attached to this story.