Should People Have to Undergo Drug Tests to Receive Unemployment Benefits?

The State of Texas will be allowed to proceed with its long delayed plan to mandate that applicants for certain unemployment benefits undergo drug testing, under a resolution that has passed both Houses of Congress, after being sponsored by two Texas lawmakers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Kevin Brady sponsored the resolution, to overturn an Obama Administration rule that blocked the policy, which was passed by the Texas Legislature in 2013.

Cruz says two types of unemployment benefit applicants will be drug tested as a requirement of receiving their benefits.

"Where workers had been discharged from their last job due to unlawful drug use, or people who were looking for work in jobs where they would be subject to drug testing," Cruz said.

The state's drug testing requirement was based on the idea that unemployment benefits are a contract with the applicant.  The taxpayers of Texas provide them with financial help to get over a time when they are without a job, and in exchange, the worker promises to apply for jobs and be ready to accept a job when offered.

But the idea was, if a person is using illegal drugs, the person is breaking the contract, because he or she will be unable to fulfill the bargain by accepting a job and getting off benefits.

Cruz says the Texas law was meant to help people, not punish them.

"It enables states to deal with the problem of drug use, the epidemic of drug use, and to craft solutions that help them escape addiction to drugs," he said.

The Obama Administration's Labor Department interpreted the parameters of the program so narrowly that it was never able to be implemented.

Democrats said the program amounted to 'punishing' people who applied for legal benefits,' and suggested that the Republicans who back the program are the ones who should be drug tested.

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