Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law today that will require people applying for unemployment benefits to submit to a drug test, if their responses to a screening questionnaire indicate possible drug use, the Texas Tribune reports. (Those questions will likely include: "Which Cheech and Chong movies do you typically view while smoking The Demon Weed?" and "Do you currently feel majestically in touch with nature, reality and the vast mysteries of time?") The bill, written by Woodlands Republican Senator Tommy Williams, doesn't set aside any new money for drug treatment programs, because of course it doesn't.
"The message is strong," Perry said at a bill-signing ceremony today at the Capitol, according to the Tribune. "If you've got a drug problem, there are ways that we can help you get that licked, but we're not going to entice individuals to not be responsible."
In a press release issued this afternoon, Perry said the bill was necessary to advance "personal responsibility," adding: "Our system is designed to provide assistance to people through a difficult time in their lives, not subsidize those who would misuse the system to live a drug-abusing lifestyle."
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Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst was also very excited; at the ceremony, again according to the Trib, he opined, "We have a responsibility to say 'no.' We shouldn't be rewarding bad behavior because at the end of the day if we reward it these folks are not going to get clean and sober."
Back during the regular legislative session, Perry was also quite excited about Flower Mound Senator Jane Nelson's bill that would have required similar drug screening for recipients of emergency financial assistance, even if people were applying on behalf of their children. That bill actually passed the Senate, but died in committee once it reached the House. Nelson has re-filed the bill again in this special session.
No word yet on whether drug tests will be required before Texas politicians are permitted to give speeches in New Hampshire. Probably a good idea, though.