Tag Archives: drug testing

Texas House Not As Pissy With the Poor

2nd and Final in a Series, apparently.

According to Emily Ramshaw at the Texas Tribune, the clock has run out on SB 11, a bill which would require TANF and other state benefit recipients to undergo costly drug testing before receiving benefits. As in other states, like Florida, the test was sure to cost more than the “savings” of taking away benefits from folks, but, mostly, it was the attack against the poor which really riled some Democrats.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said the bill was unconstitutional and invited future legal challenges.

“Are people using their food stamps to go buy drugs? I categorically deny that,” he said. “Let me just tell you, it’s hell to be poor. And it’s certainly hell to be poor in the state of Texas.”

Apparently, Republicans thought the delay would cause some of their other bad bills to die, so they didn’t really fight back. Call it a victory or simply a “whew!” moment, but it was good to see Dems stand up against this bill.

I noticed that one amendment was added that would require drug testing of legislators. I can’t say I was for that, either. I would support a breathalyzer test for legislators to be taken anytime they return to the floor, along with a new crime called LWI – Legislating While Intoxicated.

 

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Texas Senate Gets Pissy With The Poor

Color me surprised that, apparently, the Texas Senate voted unanimously to piss test poor people who receive TANF benefits. A quick look at my Inbox finds no celebratory press releases from my own Senator or other Democratic Texas Senators. Perhaps they’ll hide it in their “weekly” reports; perhaps not.

The Chron had an article a couple of days ago analyzing Senate Bill 11 and its effects. The Texas Tribune did a slightly better job in their report, though.

The protective payee provision that was included in SB 11 drew praise among some members in the upper chamber. It provides for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to designate another person to receive TANF benefits on a child’s behalf if the child’s parent tests positive for drugs.

So, I guess the self-righteous, judgmental idiots types who support piss testing the poor aren’t necessarily stopping everyone (or maybe anyone!) from receiving benefits. And, I guess, this is the reason the bill passed without much debate or nays.

Another blow to the self-righteous, judgmental types who suspect most TANF beneficiaries are lazy dope addicts was this.

Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, expressed concern that the bill creates a “three strikes, you’re out” model. The first time a person tests positive for drugs, he or she is ineligible for financial assistance for six months; the second positive test triggers a 12-month penalty; the third positive result deems the applicant permanently ineligible for TANF benefits.

Nelson reassured Lucio and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, that applicants get “plenty of opportunities” to get help. SB 11 allows for applicants who test positive for drugs the second time to reapply for benefits after six months if they have enrolled in or completed a drug treatment program. She highlights that the base bill includes $300 million to increase the availability of such programs for low income Texans.

So, on top of the millions being wasted on piss tests for the poor (think Florida where more has been wasted on piss tests than actual benefits of those who were caught), they don’t necessarily lose benefits (and their kids definitely do not lose benefits), and it looks like another $300 million will go to making drug treatment available? Well, isn’t that nice?

Republicans seem to have begun with some self-righteous indignation for what will probably be a few that get caught and have turned it into some sort of non-prison drug treatment program for the few that might get caught. Did the private prison industry agree with this? They’ve benefited most from addicts. And I guess the next step is to check which drug testing companies donated to legislator PACs.

Anyway, I’ll keep looking for celebratory press releases from Democrats. The bill goes over to the House, which will probably support it, thus killing some of the more punitive, less bipartisan piss test bills.

We’ll see what the end-product looks like after the Texas House adds or subtracts from it, but, like it has been said about other Republican ideas, it’s a solution in search of a problem just to appease those who just want to belittle those with the least. It’s wrong.