Public Benefits Drug Testing Bills Move in Three States

Recently, an unemployment drug testing bill passed the Arkansas Senate, a welfare drug testing bill won a Senate committee vote in North Carolina, and a welfare drug testing bill passed the Texas Senate. The Arkansas bill, Senate Bill 38, would require random, suspicion-less drug testing of people receiving unemployment benefits. Those seeking unemployment would have to sign a waiver to allow for random drug testing, and they would be ineligible for benefits if they refused to sign or failed the drug test. The North Carolina bill, Senate Bill 594, would require applicants for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to undergo mandatory suspicion-less drug tests at their expense. Applicants would be reimbursed if they tested negative, but denied benefits if they tested positive-until they have entered and paid for drug treatment. The Texas bill, Senate Bill 11, would require TANF applicants to undergo a drug use assessment, and if there is “good cause to suspect” drug use, they must then undergo a drug test. A positive drug test would result in a denial of benefits for six months, with a second positive drug test resulting in a denial of benefits for a year, although they could be restored after six months if drug treatment is completed.

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