TX Legislature rejects TANF drug testing bill - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

TX Legislature rejects TANF drug testing bill

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Amarillo, TX - Drug testing for welfare recipients in Texas should be mandatory, according to some state lawmakers - but it won't be this year.

Last month, about 85,000 Texans received federal aid through the TANF program, and the state provided for another 3,700.  And state lawmakers can't agree on how to balance fiscal conservatism with social welfare.

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families is a federal aid program geared toward out-of-work parents. And although current federal law allows for drug testing participants, Texas does not require it.

Texas Senate Bill 11 was sponsored by state Representative Four Price of Amarillo, who argues drug testing would cut down on fraud and waste, saying,

"The bill recognizes that there is some level of drug use in our society, and it would put procedures in place to ensure that applicants are abiding by the rules of TANF, because TANF actually requires them to sign personal responsibility agreements that they're not using drugs."

TANF Is different from other welfare programs in that participants receive cash payments, rather than food stamps like in the SNAP program - so there's no way to track how that money is spent.

"There is a strong sentiment that taxpayer dollars should not be used to subsidize a person's drug habit," says Price, "and that as a goal, we should be emphasizing self-sufficiency."

Under the provisions of the bill, Child Protective Services would be notified in the event of a positive test, and there would be a three-strike rule before being permanently barred from the program.

House Democrats stalled the bill past its midnight deadline Tuesday, raising concerns that cutting aid to families could endanger the well-being of their children.

If you'd like to learn more about the bill, follow the links attached to this story.

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