Have you heard that welfare recipients will have to be drug tested to keep their benefits in Tennessee?  Well that’s not the case yet, but a modified bill is being sponsored by Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville.  Originally the proposal called for welfare applicants that had been convicted of using drugs within five years to be tested. However, the attorney general ruled that it was constitutionally suspect.

Under the amended version, new welfare applicants would undergo a special screening process.  If suspicion is raised after the screening, then the applicant would be drug tested.  DHS will be responsible for developing the screening tool.  Treatment options will be made available to individuals that test positive.  If individuals refuse treatment, then benefits will be denied for six months.  If an individual has three failed tests, they will lose their welfare benefits for a year.

The amended bill was approved 8-3 by the Senate Finance Committee last week.  However, it still has a long way to go before it becomes law.  (Update…It passed in the Senate on 4/25)

On another note, legislation is moving forward that will strengthen requirements for receiving and keeping state unemployment insurance.  The bill passed the state house last week and is expected in the Senate this week.

The Unemployment Insurance Accountability Act of 2012 would require UI recipients to apply for at least three jobs every week and include detailed accounts of these applications online or at the Career Center.  Aimed at getting individuals back into the workforce quicker, the increased employer contacts will force individuals to do more job searching.