Texas Might Start Screening Welfare Recipients For Drug Use

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Several Texas lawmakers have been pushing for years to make a new law to screen welfare recipients for drug use. The controversial proposal is coming up again, and some want to make the already thorough assessment for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to become even more in-depth.

The Texas Tribune reports that less than 63,000 Texans are enrolled in TANF and 54,247 are children (as of October). Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute’s executive director John Colyandro wants to make sure that no one is taking advantage of the program. He stated, “You’re finding financial wherewithal to be spent on illicit drugs that ought to be used for support of your family. That alone creates an imperative to do a screening and testing.”

On the other hand, many people see this as an invasion of privacy and a waste of funds to find a very small amount of people using drugs. “There’s this misperception we have this large class of people taking advantage of the benefit to support drug habits, and that’s not the case,” says American Civil Liberties Union of Texas policy and legal director Rebecca Robertson.

If the new legislation is approved, welfare recipients will lose six months of funding upon the first offense, a year on the second and a possible permanent ban on the third according to ABC 13.