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Texas Lawmakers File Drug Screening Bill for Welfare Applicants

<p>Texas lawmakers are back at work and one law that's been filed is calling for reforms to the state's welfare program.</p> <p>As Mechell Dixon reports, the change is being spearheaded by a Texoma senator.</p>

Senator Craig Estes is co-sponsoring a bill to require drug screening for some welfare applicants because he says when it comes to those in need, government assistance is suppose to help not be a handout.

Thousands of Texans are able to put food on their table thanks to government assistance like benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, also known as TANF but state lawmakers say some are abusing this help.

That's why Senator Craig Estes co-sponsored a bill to stop it.

"Applicants have to go through a drug screening test and if they're found positive for drugs they're ineligible for 12 months but they may be able to re-apply after six months if they've completed a substance abuse treatment program," says Senator Craig Estes.


Senator Estes says he realizes many Texans continue struggling to make ends meet.

That's why he and other supporters of the drug screening bill want to help those who are truly on the path of self sufficiency.

"What we want to make sure does not happen is that the welfare safety net doesn't become a hammock for people to permanently park in. So, part of this bill will be that the benefits will last for a family for a total of 36 months which is of course, three years."

A bill has also been proposed that requires drug screening for unemployment insurance applicants and both bills are in the very early stages.

Last legislative session seven states passed drug screening legislation.

Senator Estes says Texas is one of 28 states that's looking to do the same this session.

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