Report: Drug testing bill could be challenged

Opinions split on SB 11


SAN ANTONIO - Barely out of committee and already there is talk Senate Bill 11 will be challenged in federal court.

The bill would require those asking for temporary help for needy families or unemployment insurance to undergo screening for possible drug use.

"There's a presumption they've done something wrong simply because they're in need of financial assistance," said Rolando Rios, a San Antonio civil rights attorney.

He said if it passes, the legislation could be tied up in federal court like similar laws in other states.

Eva Esquivel, spokeswoman for Workforce Solutions Alamo, said of the 69,500 people unemployed in a 12-county region, 9,133 receive unemployment benefits.

A web poll is embedded here.

According to the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, it predicts only 5 percent of those applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, who are considered "high risk" would be tested for drugs.

An agency spokeswoman said they would include those with prior felony drug convictions and those who failed a previous drug test.

"It's been well thought out," said Robert Stovall, vice chair of the Bexar County Republican Party. "Taxpayers need to know there's some responsible things being taken care of with their money."

Stovall said the bill makes sure children's benefits are protected.

Although the bill takes the approach of "three strikes, you're out," Stovall said a child's funds would be re-directed to a guardian instead of a parent.

However, Rios said he thinks the bill is "very obnoxious."

He said, "It's profiling. It's picking on people that need assistance from the government."

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.


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