Governor Perry Signs Bill Requiring Drug Testing For Unemployment Benefits

Thumbnail image for Rick_Perry_tongue_Merten.jpg
Photo by Sam Merten
The new bill will not treat cottonmouth.
Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law today that will require people applying for unemployment benefits to submit to a drug test, if their responses to a screening questionnaire indicate possible drug use, the Texas Tribune reports. (Those questions will likely include: "Which Cheech and Chong movies do you typically view while smoking The Demon Weed?" and "Do you currently feel majestically in touch with nature, reality and the vast mysteries of time?") The bill, written by Woodlands Republican Senator Tommy Williams, doesn't set aside any new money for drug treatment programs, because of course it doesn't.

"The message is strong," Perry said at a bill-signing ceremony today at the Capitol, according to the Tribune. "If you've got a drug problem, there are ways that we can help you get that licked, but we're not going to entice individuals to not be responsible."

In a press release issued this afternoon, Perry said the bill was necessary to advance "personal responsibility," adding: "Our system is designed to provide assistance to people through a difficult time in their lives, not subsidize those who would misuse the system to live a drug-abusing lifestyle."

See also:
Rick Perry and State Senator Jane Nelson Want Texas to Drug Test Welfare Recipients
Beaumont State Rep. Joe Deshotel Suggests Rick Perry Also Drug Test Politicians

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was also very excited; at the ceremony, again according to the Trib, he opined, "We have a responsibility to say 'no.' We shouldn't be rewarding bad behavior because at the end of the day if we reward it these folks are not going to get clean and sober."

Back during the regular legislative session, Perry was also quite excited about Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson's bill that would have required similar drug screening for recipients of emergency financial assistance, even if people were applying on behalf of their children. That bill actually passed the Senate, but died in committee once it reached the House. Nelson has re-filed the bill again in this special session.

No word yet on whether drug tests will be required before Texas politicians are permitted to give speeches in New Hampshire. Probably a good idea, though.



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127 comments
nevynsmail
nevynsmail

SO let me get this right..... If I work for a company and get fired because no fault of my own ( which is what has to happen to qualify for unemployment)  and I pay into the unemployment system I don't get my money I paid into the system. I 100% agree welfare recipients should test, but the unemployment money is an insurance that I pay for. Texas Gov you are thieves.......

f3llowtraveler
f3llowtraveler

Get rid of the whole unemployment system. They take some of our money, by force, based on some promise to "be there for us" later on if/when we get laid off of work. How about this -- we'll save our OWN money, thank you, and thus we'll have a larger nest egg when the time comes that we get laid off. They blow most of that money! How about they just stop taking it from us in the first place?

asumendi
asumendi

So does this mean that the government will also drug test the top executives of all companies that receive tax breaks or incentives to locate in Texas? Welfare is welfare. Let's keep it fair. And also the execs of companies  allowed to store more explosive material than fed law allows.

markhopkins435
markhopkins435

The only thing that this test will show is.... people who smoke weed a few times a week, have it in their systems for along time (weeks) even if they haven't smoked in a week or 2 they wont pass

But if you do coke, acid or even heroin on Friday or Saturday night..... come Monday you'll pee clean and pass the test (after 24-48 hrs your clean)

Unemployment is something anyone who has a job must pay into....

markhopkins435
markhopkins435

what about alcoholics.... they need help too...more than anyone who smoking weed

I don't think anyone who partakes in marijuana has ever ask ...

"where am I, "  "how did I get here and who is this ugly person I'm in bed with or

how did I drive home or how did I end up in jail I don't remember nothing thanks to my abuse of alcohol

You will never hear any of those comments come from someone who smoke weed

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

Anybody still believe the Repulican party is looking out for small businesses? All this will do is raise the premiums for the State's unemployment insurance.  Add to that the fact that Perry and Co. is doing everything they possibly can to amplify the costs of ACA, and you've got a good picture of Perry's 'help' to the small businessman.

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

And Perry and Dewhurst sit around laughing while vacationing in Colorado, enjoying legal spliffs.

Marvin Remmers
Marvin Remmers

It is money from the government to the people, because the government thinks the people need it, so it is welfare. The T in FUTA stands for Tax, so it is paid for by taxes. It's also risk management, so it could be called insurance. Either way, the recipients are expected to be looking for a new job. Drugs might affect that, so drug testing is a reasonable requirement for receiving the money. It could be privatized and purchased by the employee. Then the insurance company would come up with requirements and put that into the policy. The drug user could then choose an insurance company that allowed it. The insurance rates would probably be higher for that person, but it would be their choice.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Perry shows his hypocrisy.

Signs the bill that authorizes these drug tests, stating the need to "be responsible".

Next, Perry vetoes the funding for the Public Integrity Unit of Travis County, which coincidently is investigating the Perry Donor Slush Fund, aka CPRIT. Shut off the funding, he stops the investigation. Who are you protecting Perry???

Next up is a veto of the Ethics Bill passed by the legislature, requiring improved reporting and transparency in officials personal investments. Who are you protecting Perry???

Not too hard to see a trend here, Perry is all for investigating out of work people to see if they have consumed drugs, Perry is against investigating officials who may have consumed illict/illegal benefits.

misplaced priorities is an understatement.

Patrick Mor
Patrick Mor

Look into how much it costs to drug test. Then compare to people who use those testable drugs who do not work and are collect UB...I think you'll find that you are blowing your money...rather blow a little bit of my money on a crack baby than a lot of money on greedy politicians molesting your wallets...because at the end of the day a crack baby will not infringe upon my freedoms.

Lisa Reid West
Lisa Reid West

Wait, unemployment insurance is paid for by the employers, not the gov or employee taxes. This is big government over reach to make people pee in a cup (who's gonna pay for the test? Where is that money coming from?) to get this insurance when they loose a job through no fault of their own. It's temporary coverage paid by employers, it's not welfare.

cden95
cden95

who pays for the drug test? more taxes?

Brian Wirt
Brian Wirt

He'll do anything to line the pockets of medical lobby groups, too bad he couldn't pass the test himself; pain killer addict.

Randy Shipp
Randy Shipp

Par for the course, endorsing a program that saves no money, fails at its supposed goal, and rains hate down on the poor. What a tool.

sidewalkastro
sidewalkastro

Has Gov. Ricky invested in drug testing labs lately? I though Repubs hated government waste, I guess not.

Tim Smathers
Tim Smathers

"if their responses to a screening questionnaire indicate possible drug use" Do you like to get high? Are you a gay Democrat? Are you a gay Boy Scout?

Dianna Orender
Dianna Orender

They're not YOUR tax dollars. You are not the only one paying into the system. They are OUR tax dollars. Everyone pays in & frankly, I don't mind OUR tax dollars going to assist those who have been let go from their jobs. You probably think only "bad" people lose their jobs, though, so they probably deserve it, right?

Volleyballer Matt
Volleyballer Matt

Because Florida didn't lose enough money with the same type of program.

Dianna Orender
Dianna Orender

"However, there would be no punishment mechanism if an elected official failed the drug screening or chose to keep the results private. " Cool. Looks like that'll work just great.

Chris Chandler
Chris Chandler

You are correct Jeff. Thanks for keeping me honest. So often I get upset at those who fly off the handle with their comments about things before they read the whole thing. And it seem as if I am guilty of that here. I know Texas signed a similar bill stating that Welfare recipients would have to take a drug test & was thinking (or not thinking) that this was what they were talking about. I still stand by this statement for welfare. But you are correct. However since unemployment benefits are paid from a pool of funds that are collected from employers and are generally designed to cover 6 months of unemployment. The gray area comes when benefits are extended. The extension is not covered by the unemployment premiums. This drains the fund pool and forces the government to pay benefits out of the general fund. When this happens, unemployment benefits begin resembling welfare, rather than unemployment insurance.

Rodney Holcomb
Rodney Holcomb

Why not take the wasted money from this effort and fund more foodstamps?

Melissa Waylan
Melissa Waylan

My long form answer to this idea every time it pops up: I've read quite a bit about drug testing in relation to qualifying for "welfare" (Which doesn't actually exist as a single thing anymore anyway it's just useful as an inflammatory buzzword.) and I have not seen a single intelligent reason to do it. Most of the rhetoric in favor of it revolves around some sort of hysterical belief that "Poor people are only poor because they are druggies/lazy/choose to be etc. All of these beliefs - generally clung to in the face of all actual evidence to the contrary - are at their core a way of reassuring oneself that I couldn't end up poor and on welfare because I'm NOT a druggie/lazy/choosing to be, etc. It basically makes the supporter feel good to shame those bad people and reassures them they will never be a bad person. It also soothes the conscience so they can continue to feel justified in not doing anything to help the bad people because they've brought this all on themselves anyway. Having said that, on a purely practical level, it's are a horrible idea. It may reduce the number of people who qualify by a small amount. However, in order to do so, it's going to create a GIANT bureaucracy of record keeping, testing centers, testing personnel, and labs. Or they'll contract out to the multitude of private contractors who will spring up overnight offering to do the same job for twice the price. Either way, it's going to cost a LOT more than providing support to people who are struggling with addiction. If someone is against bigger government and government job creation I don't see how they could possibly support this. Morally, you have the issue of denying basic subsistence level help to people who have a drug problem. Addiction is a very real problem - think about how long it took you to quit smoking, for example? A person cannot just "quit" being addicted because the state will make sure they starve otherwise. Can you say increase in crime rate? A way to ethically address this factor would be to create more treatment programs but that is also going to get expensive. By the way, I'd be willing to bet the most common drug people are addicted to is alcohol which won't be tested for because it's legal. Thus largely keeping the law from accomplishing it's theoretical goal. The only people this will reasonably weed out is the casual pot smoker. More than that and you have dealing with a real problem not a choice, less than that, it doesn't even identify the problem (ie: alcohol). Plus, what about the children of those people with addiction problems? Is it ethical to decree they also must go homeless and hungry because they're parents have a problem. I know, if it comes down to their kids having a place to live they should just choose to quite! Um, ADDICTION here folks. Pretty much erradicates logical decision making/self control. (Also, "just quitting" some drugs will actively kill you.) So, should the state take away the children of people who test positive? That's another giant move of kids into the foster care system. Talk about expensive! Legally, you run up against the issue of illegal search and seizure. Bring on the lawyers! More vast sums of government money wasted in court defense of the law. Woo Hoo. Oh, and we don't do drug testing for other government benefits. Like, say, driving on our roads, enrolling our kids in public schools, social security/medicare, being qualified for police/fire department protection, military protection, use of prescription drugs passed by and food inspected by the FDA? Heck, we don't even test our congressmen/president/supreme court justices for drug use, do we? So, I guess if you put aside the vast increase in cost to the state, more children into homelessness/hunger or flooding the foster care system, funding of a huge legal extravaganza, inherent ineffectiveness in even identifying the majority of people with an addiction problem, and unequal application of the policy regarding government benefits I guess the endorsement of dehumanizing treatment of the poor for no reason other than making those who are not poor feel safe could be okay.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

Great for Gov. Oops' cronies, just like it was good for Gov. Scott's wife who owned the testing company. Cost taxpayers tens of millions net.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

For who? Your friends and relatives, or whoever gets the profits from this? Remember what happened in Florida? Taxpayers took a shellacking. You pay for if you want it.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

Paying for these tests (that lost money in Florida) should be voluntary, not paid for out of the general fund. Those who want them should pay for them. Maybe a Kickstarter program.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

That's what happened in Florida. It's all about profits for drug testers - using YOUR money.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

Drug tested to get paid to collect benefits you already EARNED on the job? In Russia, drugs test you.

Russ Coffman
Russ Coffman

Don't tell me - Oops' wife just bought a drug testing company. Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars flushed away just like in Florida.

Shawn Slaughter
Shawn Slaughter

When Fl did this, they found that only 8% failed the test, then a judge blocked the law. Why? I don't remember, google that shit.

Melissa Howell
Melissa Howell

Thank you, Kelly Bullard for pointing that out to all the Perry-loving morons who actually support this bigoted, elitist prick. Ricky is looking for yet another way to take those who are already down on their luck, and pull them down even further. If he could make this bullshit bill apply to women only, he would. Now, I will say that if someone on unemployment is denied employment b/c they fail a drug test, they should have their benefits cut off.

Jeff Simons
Jeff Simons

If this were Welfare then you'd have a point (ignoreing the 4th, 5th, and 14th amendments of the US Constitution obviously) , unemployment is NOT welfare.

Tim Smathers
Tim Smathers

I think we need to drug test fool governors who run for president and embarrass their state when they make speeches high on pain pills!

Jeff Simons
Jeff Simons

Also Unemployment isn't your tax dollars untill stage 2 unemployment, it's their previous employer's insurance obligations.

Jeff Simons
Jeff Simons

If it violates the US Constitution it's not common sense. Nor is it common sense to do this after it cost Florida more to do something similar then they saved.

Tim Daniel
Tim Daniel

Interesting that folks cannot collect unemployment unless they pass a drug test but anyone can be governor without passing an IQ test.

Eric Henninger
Eric Henninger

They do receive a lot of public benefits, so if it's good for the goose, it's good for the gander.

lisareneemerito
lisareneemerito

@Melissa Waylan I want to read this but it is too rambling and without breaks. 

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