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Drug testing for unemployment benefits

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TYLER (KYTX) - A new law requires those who lose their jobs to undergo drug testing before getting unemployment checks.

While many say they appreciate the state taking the step, they wonder if it's over the line.

Some disagree with the idea, but the people we spoke to are in favor of it.

Many of them have even had benefits through the state, some having used unemployment in the past.

The bill requires certain individuals be drug tested before getting benefits.

And a lot of people are happy with it.

People fill the computers at the Texas Workforce Commission in Tyler, hoping to find a job.

"Anything in home healthcare, like provider or restaurant cashier," says Craft.

Rochelle Craft has been looking since April, she had to give up her job, so she didn't qualify for unemployment.

"They put me back on the streets to different patients, but I couldn't afford the gas," says Craft.

But she backs Governor Rick Perry in a new effort to test people who do get unemployment checks.

"If you can do drugs, or drink, or party, you can work and shouldn't be on government benefits," Craft.

"I was on food stamps for a year, when I got my disability from the Social Security Administration, they took me off food stamps," says Robert Pace.

Pace has had government assistance in the past, I asked if he would be ok being drug tested as well.

"Yeah, yeah, shoot yeah," says Pace.

"Our system isn't established to carry those who are unwilling to work. Our system is designed to provide assistance," says Gov. Perry.

Gov. Perry signed Senate Bill 21 Friday, it authorizes drug screenings for those applying for benefits for the first time in fields where drug testing is mandatory for employment.

Jobs like aviation, trucking and those dealing with hazardous materials.

"Our system is to provide assistance to people who are going through a difficult period of their lives, not to subsidize those who misuse the assistance to abuse drugs," says Gov. Perry.

A statement craft can stand behind.

"Anytime it has to do with government funding or benefits, everybody should be drug tested," says Craft.

Those against the measure say it violates 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

Others call the testing a waste of tax dollars.

Those unemployed workers to would have to fill out state questionnaires.

Answers considered "suspicious" would lead to drug tests, and anyone who fails a test will lose their unemployment benefits.

The questionnaire used would have to be adopted by the Texas Workforce Commission in order to be administered to people looking for unemployment benefits.

Applicants who fail a drug test could receive benefits if they enter a treatment program or pass a second test administered after four weeks.

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