TX House To Vote On Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

UPDATED: The Texas Tribune is reporting that the Texas House allowed the clock to run out Tuesday night on Senate Bill 11. The bill would require some welfare recipients to take drug tests. The Texas Senate has already approved the bill and expected to get the governor's signature.

 One former state lawmaker says this is the wrong approach.

Supporters of testing welfare recipients for drugs say it's a way to make sure taxpayer dollars don't support substance abuse.  Patricia Gray is the director of research at the Health Law and Policy Institute at the UH Law Center. She says tying benefits to a clean drug test is an inefficient solution to an almost non-existent problem.

"We do know that we have people who abuse drugs whose families are in deep trouble.  The question is — are those families the ones applying for benefits in our state?  And the evidence from other states suggests they are not."

Gray says the money that would be spent drug testing welfare recipients, and defending the law from a likely court challenge, could be put to better use.

"Which is, expanding benefits to families who really need it, working with those families more closely, and providing treatment for those that we already know are abusing drugs."

Florida had a similar drug testing law. The testing ended up costing more than it saved in benefits.  And a federal appeals court ultimately struck it down. Gray predicts a similar outcome should such a measure become law in Texas.

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