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Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs law requiring welfare recipients to take drug test, ACLU objects


If Floridians want welfare, they better make sure they are drug-free.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill on Tuesday that requires benefit recipients to undergo drug testing.

Applicants for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program who test positive for illicit substances won't be eligible for the funds for a year, or until they undergo treatment.

Those who fail a second time would be banned from receiving the funds for three years.

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

If welfare candidates pass the drug screening, they'll be reimbursed for the test.

The legislation instantly came under a barrage of criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and several of the Sunshine State's Democrats. They argued the bill is an invasion of privacy.

Gov. Scott. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

"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," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

"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."

The law, which will be enacted July 1, is likely to be challenged. A similar bill was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in Michigan in 2003.
52 Responses
585414 tn?1288944902
   Yes I would instead require that anyone who is found to be abusing drugs enter rehabilitation and that their progress be monitored there. There are specific regulations as regards SSI (Supplemental Security Income) and to receive it a person has to have not tested positive as regards drugs for 6 months and have enrolled in a rehab program that can track their progress. I'd be concerned about the impact on families with children, specifically the children themselves.
377493 tn?1356505749
This is just so misguided.  Sorry, but it is.  I understand what he thinks he is doing is right, but I can tell you this will not solve the drug problem, and even more importantly will not resolve welfare issues.  I can also understand tax payers frustration at paying for this..but it actually costs app. 3X as much (to the state) for someone to live in a shelter then it does for them to be in their own home. Yep, I can back that up with facts. Not even close to a step in the right direction.  You are going to see the homeless issue increase dramatically.

Also curious what they constitute as drugs?  Is alcohol included?  What about cigarettes?  Pop?  Anything deemed unnecessary by them?  Is that the next step?  "Sorry, you spent too much on meat this month and not enough on veggies...we are cutting you off"...where will the line be?  And how about gambling?  That is an addiction.  THis opens an awful lot of doors.

I promise you that the drug addicts will not be the victims of this..it will be kids.  Chances are also good that you will see crime increase, which by the way, costs significantly more then a welfare cheque does.  
Avatar universal
Well, once again, I am saying stop taking away our rights.
That said, we need a serious overhall with people collecting from the government.
The system that is in place is a joke. I know so many people that dont want to work full time because it interferes with their life. They are perfectly capable of working, but refuse to take jobs they think are beneath them, and they insist they will not work 40 hours a week, because it would interfere with their enjoying life. I watch as my husband works hard and what do these folks do? They know the ins and outs of how to leech off the uncle sam and they brag about it. They work a minimum of hours, they have government paid heat, medical, and food. They can afford the things like monthly speciality food delivery, vacations, tv that they pay for etc... I spoke to a 30 year old girl from the south and she was bragging about having another baby (her 4th) to keep the checks coming so she doesnt have to work. I told her she was a poor example to her children. She laughed and said all her family has done this, as if its something she was born doing and cant stop. Great system. Its really shameful. I am all for helping people in NEED with our taxes but I am not for supporting the lazy and spoiled. Drug testing is not the issue. If some one is able to work full time and doesnt, thats the issue.
377493 tn?1356505749
I couoldn't agree more.  We have exactly the same issues here.  The other problem is huge huge fraud.  Example...mom claims to be a single mom unable to work.  Collects welfare.  In the meantime, she is living with her boyfriend and he is supporting her.  I can't tell you how often I see this happen.  We need to cut down of the fraud big time.  We also need to get people back to work.  Here you have to send in a card showing you applied for X amount of jobs.  But people lie on it all the time, and of course the resources aren't there to check.

Drug testing will only increase costs...heck, just the cost of administering the test alone will increase things.  And if they think that many many of these users don't know how to get around the testing?  Honestly, this just isn't going to work.
Avatar universal
So how long before crime goes up, homelessness goes up, and the part that gets me is the recipient has to pay for the drug test. Now come on, in order to be able to get benefits you have to be practically dead and now you gotta come up with money for a drug test? I understand what they want to have happen but I seriously think its gonna backfire big time! And if I read it right they have to be clean for a year before getting any kind of assistance.  I wonder what old Rick Scott is getting outta this deal! Somethings doesnt feel right with this one. LOL, Florida would like to see this guy run out on a rail! What a loser.
Avatar universal
I somewhat understand his thoughts on this, considering you need to pass a drug test to work at almost any job. This welfare is the person's "job", so they would have to stay clean in order to get it. Though I don't think it's going to work well and it's going to cost a lot to even administer the tests. Welfare does need an overhaul, but it needs to be done differently and I don't know how to go about that one. Many people cheat the system and are proud to say that they have done this. A girl at school is on disability, yet she works for a friend under the table doing labor type work on her feet for many hours a day. She's far from being disabled, but her doctor signed off on it for what ever reason.
Avatar universal
The fraud in the system ticks me off as well, but you dont throw the baby out with the bathwater either as they say. For starters, the people that work for these angencies need to be held accountable for doing their jobs. Have you ever tried to get a hold of someone that works for say child support? And anyone that has had to take the road trip every few days to get them to update their information and do what they are paid to knows what I am talking about. Its is not the system so much as how the system is or is not being worked. imo
206807 tn?1331939784
Police say a child was starved and left to die.

They say the girl weighed only 13 pounds and investigators have now charged the girl's mother and grandmother with attempted murder.

Lakisha Green and Cassie Green were arrested and the child was taken to Memorial Health.

"They would never really feed her or give her anything to drink. She was really little ... she looked like a skeleton," a family member who didn't want to be identified said.

Neighbors say the mother received disability payments and used the money to buy drugs instead of feeding the child.

"You don't mistreat a child. It is absolutely ridiculous," neighbor Ethel Liddell said.

Other neighbors suspect the family hid the baby. When people would ask how she was doing, neighbors say the family would say she was sick.

"I never saw the baby with them. I never even knew there was a baby down there," neighbor Rasmiyyah Quarterman said.

The Greens were recently arrested even though the child was taken away in January.

Special Victims Sgt. Karen Ryan won't talk about specifics of the case because it is pending litigation, but did explain that all investigations like this take time.

"We have to do medical reviews. We do background investigations in our cases to see how long it's been going on. Of course, we always take the children away and make sure they are getting proper care," Sergeant Ryan said.

The child suffers from a genetic disorder where she cannot communicate, feed herself, or walk and is bed ridden.

Copyright 2011 WTOC. All rights reserved
Avatar universal
Thats terrible.
Avatar universal
To my point, no one checked to see how this child was doing or following up on their caseload. Absolutely horrible.
377493 tn?1356505749
Neglect is neglect and abuse is abuse.  This happens at every economic level of society.  What makes me really angry is that obviously there were family members that knew, and didn't turn them in.  I don't care how close the relationship was to me...I would be making that phone call immediately.  This is horrible.
1310633 tn?1430227691
Drug addiction is a horrible thing, and causes people to act in unfathomable ways.

Speaking to the original topic, I think that Florida is on the right track in trying to do SOMETHING, but I don't think that they've come up with the right answer to the problem.

I applaud their effort to do something about it, as no one else seems to be doing anything (except sitting there and complaining about it), but someone above me said that this would negatively effect the children, and I have to agree with that. Then again, as the above story indicates, some drug addicts will spend EVERY CENT on their DOC to the point where their children starve to death, so I'm just not sure WHAT to do about this.

I'm not certain exactly sure what the answer is, but the fact that Florida has taken this step is a good sign, in my opinion. Hopefully it'll bring to light the fact that it's a problem that needs to be addressed.

This is a difficult topic with no real solution, that I can see anyway. Eliminate drug addiction! There you go... problem solved. ~That was easy~ Seriously, what do you do about this???
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