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Senate Ends Week Passing Unemployment Drug Testing Bill

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio

Similar to the bill mandating welfare recipients be screened for drugs, this bill mandates that Texans receiving unemployment benefits also be drug-tested.

Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, authored the bill that would force all unemployment applicants to go through a drug-screening process with a counselor from the Texas Workforce Commission.

"If there is a red flag that comes up on one of those screening questions then that person would be asked.  So it’s not going to be every single person, there would have to be something that they admitted in the interview that led the interviewer to believe there may be drug abuse," Williams said.

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, added an amendment that allows those who test positive to appeal the results after 10 days.

"The 10-day window would allow the individual time to appeal the result if desired and re-take the test.  It further requires that the commission provide prompt notice to the individual in the event of a failed test, including the manner in which the individual can appeal if retaking the drug test, and also common potential causes of a false-positive test result," Davis said.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, added a similar provision that allows a person a second chance if they enroll in a drug treatment program no later than seven days after testing positive for drugs. 

After some minor bickering, the amended bill won the full support of the Senate.

Additional Note: The bill will now head to the House.