The Texas House is set to take a final vote Tuesday on a bill that would mandate that some people pass a drug test to get and keep state welfare benefits, like food stamps, unemployment benefits, and housing assistance, 1200 WOAI news reports.
The bill has been watered down somewhat from the measure first introduced in December.
It would require that everybody who applies for financial assistance benefits undergo a 'screening process' and only those who flunk the screening would have to undergo drug testing.
The screening process would also bar people from receiving benefits if they test positive for marijuana, even though marijuana has been legalized in two states, and is generally not considered to be a 'dangerous drug.'
"If the drug test indicates the presence in the person's body of a controlled substance not prescribed for the person by a health care practitioner, the person is ineligible for financial assistance benefits for a period of six months," the bill states.
But if the adult is denied benefits, it doesn't affect the ability of a child or other dependant to receive benefits.
Anybody who is denied benefits would have an opportunity to retest after six months, but after flunking three drug tests, the person is 'permanently barred' from receiving state welfare benefits.
There are also provisions in the bill to allow a person to appeal a positive drug test.
The drug tests would be paid for by the taxpayers, from federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families funding.
A person who flunks a drug test would also not be eligible for funding to care for a minor child.
Supporters say drug testing is needed because welfare and unemployment benefits are considered a 'contract.' The state provides temporary assistance in exchange for the individual seeking another job so the benefits can be discontinued. If a person is using illegal drugs, they would not be able to pass a drug test administered by a prospective employer.
Opponents of the bill say its expensive, insulting, and unconstitutional. In fact, a similar law passed in Florida was thrown out by a judge.