East Texans support state bill that requires drug tests before receiving unemployment

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - (KTRE) – The author of House Bill #126 says it would stop drug-users from taking money from hard working Texans who pay taxes. If state lawmakers pass the bill, passing a drug test would be required before unemployment checks are handed over.

"... I think that holding people accountable if they're beginning to find unemployment necessary that they need to abide by the law and not be using drugs," said Phyllis Grandgeorge, ADAC.

The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of East Texas' Grandgeorge says people may think before using if there are consequences.

"Sometimes that motivates people to become drug-free and live a lifestyle that's drug-free," said Grandgeorge.

Many employers already require clean drug screens before hiring.  Others, like truck drivers, under-go routine tests.

"They come in, they provide a photo identification, we do check to see they didn't bring in anything that would alter the sample in any manner, we collect a sample," said Dr. Keven Ellis, owner of East Texas Drug Testing.

Ellis thinks the bill could actually save the state money.

"They figure once this program is up and running it will cost 30 million per year for the testing. They figure it could save up to 90 million per year in unemployment benefits," said Ellis.

That's based on the national number of people who test positive for drugs, each year.

For those who are fighting addiction in this community, they believe unemployment drug screens could be a way of identifying those who need their services.  ADAC works to help people overcome addition. Grandgeorge hopes the bill would require treatment for those who test positive.

"We teach them skills that will get them ready for the workplace and remain in the workplace so they'll be successful in the community," said Grandgeorge.

©2011 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.