Complete coverage of the 83rd session of the Texas Legislature.

Drug Testing Proposed for State Assistance Applicants

Bill would require drug test for applicants, random testing for recipients

By Omar Villafranca
|  Tuesday, Feb 12, 2013  |  Updated 8:09 PM CDT
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Texas could become the eighth state to require drug testing for people who apply for financial help from the government.

Omar Villafranca, NBC 5 News

Texas could become the eighth state to require drug testing for people who apply for financial help from the government.

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Texans applying for financial assistance might have to do more than fill out an application -- they might have to pee in a cup for a drug test.

State Rep. Lyle Larson is pushing a bill that would require drug testing to be eligible for financial assistance.

"Our primary focus is to get them to think twice before they take drugs, because they're never going to get back into the workforce, because they will be drug-screened as they apply for jobs," Larson said. "It's a deterrent."

The bill would apply to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. If the bill passes, applicants could be tested during the application and later be subject to random testing.

"There is going to be screening when people initially apply, and then there will be some random drug testing that will take place, very similar to a lot of the workforces both in the public sector and the private sector," Larson said.

If caught, potential applicants would be denied. Those on assistance would lose benefits for a year if they test positive. The bill wouldn't penalize the children of parents who test positive for drugs.

"It's focused on the adults," Larson said. "If you're applying on behalf of kids, the kids will still get the benefits, even though the adult has offended."

At least seven states have laws on the books requiring a drug test for government assistance. Several other states are considering similar measures.

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