The U.S. Labor Department has ruled that Texas cannot enforce a law passed by the Legislature in 2013 which makes passing a drug test a requirement for some workers to get and keep unemployment compensation benefits, 1200 WOAI news reports.
"Congress has passed this bill, it passed the Texas Legislature, and it is unconscionable to me that a bunch of federal bureaucrats are able to thwart the will of both Congress and our Legislature," said Bill Hammond, the President of the Texas Association of Business, one of the major backers of the proposal.
The Legislature approved the bill on the grounds that receiving unemployment benefits provides a 'bridge' for workers who have lost one job while they look for a second, and there is an unspoken contract between the employers who pay into the unemployment compensation fund and the workers. The state and the employers agree to pay benefits on the condition that the workers will actively seek out employment and get off of benefits.
But if the worker is taking illegal drugs while receiving benefits, the argument goes, he or she is unable to take jobs that are available and is breaking the agreement.
The law was watered down by the Legislature to cover only people who are in professions where drug testing is a requirement, like truck driving and nursing.
The feds say the law as it is written is too vague and it is unclear exactly what workers will qualify.
"Just because some folks in D.C. who have a little bit of power at the Labor Department do not like this idea, that shouldn’t give them the right to second guess the will of the people of Texas," Hammond said.