Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 21, which will require mandatory drug screening as a condition for the receipt of unemployment compensation benefits by certain individuals. The governor was joined by bill author Sen. Tommy Williams and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the signing ceremony.
"Texas is a state where personal responsibility is very important, and recipients of unemployment benefits have a responsibility to be prepared to work when an opportunity presents itself," Gov. Perry said. "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. This bill protects the resources that should be reserved for those truly in need."
SB 21 authorizes drug screenings for those receiving unemployment benefits in Texas who work in fields where drug testing is mandatory for employment. Those fields are designated by the United States Department of Labor, and include occupations that regularly conduct pre-employment drug testing.
"Senate Bill 21 was one of the most important bills I carried this session because it will help ensure someone who loses a job, through no fault of their own, will be ready to go back to work when another opportunity opens," Sen. Tommy Williams said. "My goal is to send a clear message and to get people help they need. Sadly, many business owners have told me they have available jobs but simply can't find workers to pass their company's drug test."
"Texas is the job-creation engine of the nation," House sponsor Rep. Brandon Creighton said. "For those who are unemployed or getting back on their feet, we must ensure they are fully prepared to enter the workforce, where drug screening is commonplace. Texas has a responsibility to ensure that our policies discourage drug use, not enable or subsidize it."