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Florida Welfare Drug Testing Bill Officially Signed Into Law


Urine TestBy Phillip Smith

Florida welfare applicants and recipients, mostly women with children, will now have to undergo drug tests at their own expense to receive cash benefits after Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed into law a drug testing bill, HB 353, that passed the state legislature earlier this month. Scott also signed HB 1039, a law banning “bath salts,” or new synthetic stimulant drugs.

More than 21,000 Floridians receiving benefits as heads of households will have to pay for and take the drug tests, as well as any new applicants. If they pass the drug test, they will be reimbursed for the cost. If they fail the drug test, they become ineligible to receive benefits for one year or until after they have successfully completed drug treatment. Children of heads of household who test positive would still be eligible to receive benefits through a designated third party.

Scott and the Republican-controlled legislature argued that the law is necessary to stop welfare recipients from using the money to buy drugs. But opponents cited studies demonstrating that drug use is no more common among welfare recipients than among the general public.

“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Scott said in a press release. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”

drug warThe ACLU of Florida was quick to attack the new law. It noted that the only other state law mandating suspicionless drug testing of welfare recipients–one in Michigan–was overturned by the federal courts in 2003 for violating the Fourth Amendment’s proscription against unwarranted searches and seizures.

“Once again, this governor has demonstrated his dismissal of both the law and the right of Floridians to personal privacy by signing into law a bill that treats those who have lost their jobs like suspected criminals,” said ACLU of Florida head Howard Simon in a statement Tuesday. “The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn, as well as their families, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse.”

Citing the Michigan decision, Simon continued: “Surely the governor knew this, and the ACLU testified in the legislature that the bill was a significant and unnecessary invasion of privacy. The new law rests on an ugly stereotype that was disproven by the state’s own earlier experimental drug-testing program,” he said. “Nevertheless, their zeal to score political points on the backs of Florida’s poor once again overrode their duty to uphold the Constitution. Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound policy. Today, that unsound policy is Florida law.”

Also Florida law, under an executive order signed earlier this year by Scott, is the suspicionless drug testing of state employees. It, too, is opposed by the ACLU of Florida, which today said it would have an announcement about that issue tomorrow. That most likely means the ACLU will announce it is challenging the state employee drug testing law. Stay tuned.

Artilcle From StoptheDrugWar.orgCreative Commons Licensing


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  1. UnknownRider on

    All those who fail to take responsibility for their behavior – a defining characteristic of Democrats – are crying foul.  Contrary to what they may have been told and what they believe, nobody owes them anything.  In fact, for government to use force to get taxpayers to give them anything for any reason is a fundamentally immoral act.  We are all ultimately and solely responsible for ourselves.  

  2. I get randomly pee tested at my job, why isn’t the ACLU protesting that? I kill myself for forty hours a week to make ends meet, yet they get to to search my urine “without cause or even suspicion of drug use.” Oh, but when the poor people who need a little help to get by, or back on track, get asked to do the same thing, it’s so horrible and unlawful. Why shouldn’t the people getting a hand out have to work for it or earn it a little. Make them do some manditory volunteering now that they have an extra 40 hours a week. Lol, can’t do that, it might be considered slavery. How is someone collecting unemployment, a little assistance until they can find a new job, suppose to get a job when they can’t pass the drug test that most jobs require of new applicants? This is just people milking the system and crying because it has been made a little harder. Point is people should stop wasting thirty time protesting this and spend it fighting for pot to be legalized. Then most people will pass the pee test.

  3. Your lack of comprehension of the definition of the word entitlement is typical of this bill’s supporters. An entitlement isn’t a bad thing, it’s not a societal burden, you dense troll.

  4. Kudos to the state of Florida! The rest of the nation should support Florida’s lead and follow with the same law. I have worked for 45 years and never failed a mandatory drug test for any job or in the event of illness was anything found without a RX from a licensed physician. If an individual objects to drug testing there must be something to hide. I have also paid taxes for 45 years and I resent paying for “ANYONE” who wishes to abuse the system for a free ride. If they want help, be legal, lawful and appreciative. Welfare is not an entitlement in the state of FLorida nor should it be in any other state in this nation. In my opinion the ACLU promotes the entitlement attitude which is disgusting behavior and it’s no wonder those protesting go kicking and screaming demanding what is not rightly theirs.Great job Florida!

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