AUSTIN (April 10, 2013)--The Texas Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would require drug tests for some welfare applicants and would cut off drug users from receiving benefits.
The bill by state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, covers adults applying to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides poor people with money for food, clothing, housing and other basic needs.
The bill passed Wednesday would temporarily cut off benefits to drug users and would make the cut off permanent after three failed drug tests.
Benefits would still go to an applicant's minor children through a third party.
The program spends about $90 million on 100,000 Texans every year.
Taxpayer money should not be used to support a drug habit, Nelson said.
She said many Texas employers require pre-employment drug testing and said her bill may help people find jobs and get off welfare.
"We're not only going to help them get off drugs," Nelson said. "We're going to help them get a job."
The Senate is also considering a separate bill that would require similar screening and drug testing for those who apply for unemployment benefits. Gov. Rick Perry has expressed support for both drug testing bills.
The bill goes to the House for consideration.