State Senate Passes Drug Testing Bill

State Senate Passes Drug Testing Bill

A bill that would require some applicants for unemployment benefits to take a drug test is a step closer to becoming law.

The Texas State Senate passed the bill last week and it is now moving to the House for a vote.

Many state legislatures across the U.S. have pushed bills to drug screen welfare recipients.

Last week, the Lone Star state joined the list by passing Senate Bill 21.

The bill would require applicants for unemployment benefits to take a drug test if their responses to a screening questionnaire raise red flags.

State Senator Juan Hinojosa (District 20) voted for the bill.

"If you are using drugs you will never get hired and you will never get off unemployment," Sen. Hinojosa said.

Federal judges struck down a similar drug testing law in Florida in 2011, saying it violates the constitutional ban on unreasonable searches.

But, Senator Hinojosa says this bill would not mandate every unemployment applicant to take a drug test.

"Not all of them will be tested, only when there are signs that, that person is using drugs," he said.

Action 4 talked to job hunters at Workforce Solutions in Edinburg and many agree that drug testing should be allowed.

We also caught up with Jos Luis Lozano Jr. who has been looking for a job for a year.

He says he is drug-free but thinks it is unconstitutional to require drug-testing for unemployment benefits.

"I don't think it's right, I mean people, we need to work and we need to support our families and stuff," Lozano said.

Senator Hinojosa says it is beneficial for job hunters to be drug free.

"The private sector now, by and large, will test any job applicant to see if they are on drugs."

He says the state appropriated 300-million dollars for substance abuse treatment, meaning those who test positive for drugs will have help from the state to get clean.

"If you have a drug use problem we need to help you get off drugs and be employable."

By treating drug users, Hinojosa hopes more people will be able to join the workforce.

The state senate also approved another drug testing bill last week that would require some welfare applicants to take a drug test.