Welfare drug testing bill moving to full Senate for vote

Senate Bill 11

A bill that would require drug testing for welfare recipients is moving on to the full Texas State Senate for a vote.

Senate Bill 11 unanimously passed the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday.

Texas State Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) said she authored the bill.

She wrote the bill to make sure Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) recipients won't use the state's cash assistance to buy drugs.

The bill requires:

New TANF applicants to undergo a controlled substance screening assessment; Drug testing for any applicant with a felony drug conviction, an applicant who previously tested positive or an applicant whose screening assessment indicates good cause to suspect the person of use of a controlled substance; Requires the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to pay for the cost of the screening assessment and drug test out of the state's federal TANF block grant funds; Disqualifies adult applicants testing positive for drug use from TANF for 12 months, but allows applicants to reapply after 6 months if they have completed or are enrolled in a substance abuse treatment program; and Allows the adult applicant TMs family to continue to receive services for 6 months " after which the adult must submit to a new drug test. A positive result would create a "protective payee" designated by HHSC to receive any family benefits and ensure they are used appropriately. The adult recipient would be permitted to reapply within 6 months if the applicant provides proof of successful completion of, or current enrollment in, a substance abuse treatment program. After a third positive drug test, an adult applicant would be permanently barred from receiving TANF benefits. Family benefits would continue under the "protective payee" arrangement.

Texas operates the TANF program to make sure poor families can meet their basic needs.

After passing committee, the bill will move on the full Texas Senate for a vote but has not yet been placed on a calendar.

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