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Bill on Drug Testing of State Aid Recipients Gets Initial Approval

Veronica Zaragovia for KUT News

Update (May 25, 2013):  
Both the House and Senate have passed this bill, sending it to Gov. Rick Perry's desk for his approval.

Original story:
The Texas House split on a couple of bills that would drug test recipients of state aid. A midnight deadline passed before lawmakers could vote on a bill that would drug test recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

But earlier in the day lawmakers did pass testing for unemployment benefits.

The bill was part of a push by Republicans to make sure people breaking the law weren't receiving state funds, and were ready to be hired.

"Trying to make sure that we lead every applicant for unemployment benefits to the most productive, able status that they can be in as they seek employment and as they work to look out for their family, said State Rep. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, the bill’s House sponsor.

Only those who got screened in order to get their job in the first place would be tested — people who worked in fields like aviation, trucking and the handling of hazardous materials.

State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie questioned the need.

"Are we just adding insult to injury in what is already a traumatic experience when someone is unemployed and having to worry about how they will put bread on the family for their family?" Rep. Turner asked. "Why do we have to do that when we don’t have a problem we need to solve."

The bill needs to pass a final vote today in the Texas House.