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Governor signs drug screening bill
AUSTIN - From Texas Governor's Office
Gov. Rick Perry today signed Senate Bill 21, which will require mandatory drug screening as a condition for the receipt of unemployment compensation benefits by certain individuals. The governor was joined by bill author Sen. Tommy Williams and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for the signing ceremony.
"Texas is a state where personal responsibility is very important, and recipients of unemployment benefits have a responsibility to be prepared to work when an opportunity presents itself," Gov. Perry said. "Our system is designed to provide assistance to people through a difficult time in their lives, not subsidize those who would misuse the system to live a drug-abusing lifestyle. This bill protects the resources that should be reserved for those truly in need."
SB 21 authorizes drug screenings for those receiving unemployment benefits in Texas who work in fields where drug testing is mandatory for employment. Those fields are designated by the United States Department of Labor, and include occupations that regularly conduct pre-employment drug testing.
"Senate Bill 21 was one of the most important bills I carried this session because it will help ensure someone who loses a job, through no fault of their own, will be ready to go back to work when another opportunity opens," Sen. Tommy Williams said. "My goal is to send a clear message and to get people help they need. Sadly, many business owners have told me they have available jobs but simply can't find workers to pass their company's drug test."
"Texas is the job-creation engine of the nation," House sponsor Rep. Brandon Creighton said. "For those who are unemployed or getting back on their feet, we must ensure they are fully prepared to enter the workforce, where drug screening is commonplace. Texas has a responsibility to ensure that our policies discourage drug use, not enable or subsidize it."
AUSTIN - From Texas Association of Business
The following statement can be attributed to Bill Hammond, Texas Association of Business President and CEO.
"The Texas Association of Business was a strong supporter of SB 21. Part of the agreement for claimants to receive benefits is that they be available and ready to work. If they are taking illegal drugs they are neither ready nor available.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that drug use costs employers between $75 billion and $100 billion each year in lost time at work, accidents in the workplace, health care and workers’ compensation costs. Senate Bill 21 will help reduce those costs to the state’s employers.
TAB is proud that this bill is named the Ken Legler Act. Ken was not only a caring family man and legislator; he was also a TAB Board Member. Ken filed this legislation in previous sessions and it is only fitting that we honor him in laying the groundwork for this piece of legislation. He would be very happy to know that his name is associated with legislation that aims to cut the problem of drug abuse in the workplace."