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Drug testing as a condition for unemployment benefits supported by some lawmakers

Posted May 23, 2013 12:00 PM CDT
By Stephanie Francis Ward

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Should unemployment benefits be contingent on consenting to a drug test? Yes, in certain circumstances, say Texas lawmakers.

The state house passed Bill 21 Wednesday, Reuters reports. The bill had already passed in the Texas senate. If it becomes law, it will apply to unemployed Texans who worked in designated Department of Labor jobs that routinely require pre-employment drug screening.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry urged lawmakers to support mandatory drug testing as a requirement for welfare and unemployment benefits. The welfare portion was tabled earlier this week, after Democrats blocked it from meeting an initial vote deadline.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Reuters reports, Indiana and Kansas also require drug testing as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits. And in Arkansas, the Senate recently approved a bill requiring random drug testing for individuals receiving unemployment insurance.

Jeremy Hutchinson, an Arkansas senator, sponsors the bill, the Associated Press reports. According to him, drug testing would help the state decided if individuals receiving unemployment benefits are actively looking for work.

"If you can't pass a drug test, then you typically can't get employed, and I would argue you're not actively looking for employment," he told lawmakers.

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