In yet another hair-brained idea, Governor Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst came out pushing drug testing for individuals receiving any state money. Governor's Office:

Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called on the Texas Legislature to enact reforms to the state's welfare and unemployment benefit programs, including authorizing drug screenings for those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. State Sen. Jane Nelson has pre-filed a bill for the upcoming legislative session to require drug screening for TANF applicants.

"Texas taxpayers will not subsidize or tolerate illegal drug abuse. Every dollar that goes to someone who uses it inappropriately is a dollar that can't go to a Texan who needs it for housing, child care or medicine," Gov. Perry said. "Being on drugs makes it much harder to begin the journey to independence, which only assures individuals remain stuck in the terrible cycle of drug abuse and poverty."

"We owe it to Texas taxpayers to structure our welfare and unemployment programs in a way that guarantees recipients are serious about getting back to work," Lt. Gov. Dewhurst said. "It's beneficial to welfare recipients for us to reform and strengthen our job training requirements and require them to be drug-free so that we can help them get back on their feet and back to work."

ACLU was quick to respond. In a state known country-wide for advocating personal freedom, officials say the drug testing would amount to unlawful search and seizure. See
"Taking a group of people and subjecting them all to screening doesn't give any basis for why that one individual should be tested," Simpson said. It’s a policy that Simpson says have been proven inefficient in Florida.

Rebecca Robertson said, “Drug tests are particularly invasive searches, and under our Constitution, the government cannot conduct such searches unless it has a good reason to believe a person is actually engaged in wrongdoing. This law authorizes government over-reach by allowing arbitrary searches without any suspicion that a crime is being committed.”

Matt Simpson said, “The possible benefits of this proposed invasive and discriminatory testing are far outweighed by the costs. We’ve already seen this kind of approach fail: a similarly ineffective fingerprinting program for food stamp recipients was abandoned by the State of Texas as too costly. We don’t need to go down that road again.”

They never seem to learn.  Previous attempts at this have proved costly and ineffective. According to the Miami Herald,  Florida's welfare drug tests cost more money than state saves, data shows.

Huffington Post reports:

Florida and Georgia are the only states requiring all applicants for welfare, formally known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, to prove they're not on drugs. A federal court halted such testing in Florida, citing the U.S. Constitution's protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and mocking the state for its claims that the testing would save money. Georgia halted its testing scheme to wait and see how the Florida challenge shakes out.

Before the judiciary put a stop to the testing, results from Florida's drug testing program suggested TANF applicants were much less likely than the general population to use drugs.

The Miami-Herald reported earlier this year that in four months of testing welfare recipients, just 2.6 percent tested positive for illicit drugs, most often for marijuana use.

Lisa Falkenberg at the Houston Chronicle says that although a sensible person might think that since all these important officials are making this issue a priority that there's a real, pressing, expensive problem here that needs to be addressed; but that is nonsense. She points out  Bill to require the needy to pass drug test only hurts the children  "the other blaring issue no one seems to want to address. Only about 17,700 beneficiaries of the welfare program in question were adults in fiscal year 2011. The rest, 96,743, were children, according to the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities, a nonprofit that advocates for low-income Texans".
Sadly, the latest scheme top Republicans in Austin have cooked up - or, more accurately, copied from some far-right think tank that cooked it up- may only exacerbate drug abuse among needy people. It would crack down on a "problem" that's never been proved to exist. And, during these hard economic times, the expensive reforms would waste even more precious taxpayer dollars rather than save them.

And, oh yeah, it could also threaten the livelihoods of innocent children.

She closes with
The question remains: Why would Nelson, Perry and Dewhurst support a bill that won't reduce drug abuse and would likely cost taxpayers even more than it's trying to save? It could have something to do with a far-right campaign to undermine support for unemployment insurance benefits by associating them with welfare. Or it could be this simple: For Republicans, it's good politics to beat up on Mitt Romney's "47 percent." Even when that 47 percent are welfare recipients who are no more than 0.4 percent of Texas' 25.7 million population. And even when most of that 0.4 percent are kids.
I would like to know who has the drug testing contract.  I suspect that might lead to the parties who would be the only winners in this and point to who is behind this particular insanity.

Originally posted to DRo on Thu Nov 15, 2012 at 11:46 AM PST.

Also republished by TexKos-Messing with Texas with Nothing but Love for Texans.

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