Florida government defends requiring drug tests for welfare recipients
Rick Scott, the governor of Florida, supports drug testing for Floridians who want to receive welfare benefits.
June 5th, 2011
01:07 PM ET

Florida government defends requiring drug tests for welfare recipients

Florida Gov. Rick Scott is defending recent legislation that requires adults in the state applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screenings, saying the law provides "personal accountability."

"It's not right for taxpayer money to be paying for somebody's drug addiction," Scott said on CNN on Sunday. "On top of that, this is going to increase personal responsibility, personal accountability. We shouldn't be subsidizing people's addiction."

But the ACLU of Florida disagrees. It has already filed suit against Scott over a measure requiring government employees to undergo random drug testing. It says it may sue over the welfare law as well.

"What (Scott) is doing is giving ugly legitimacy to an unfortunate stereotype that has been in this country for a couple of decades that all welfare recipients are a bunch of drug abusers," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

Scott told CNN he wants to ensure that welfare funds go to their primary target to disadvantaged children and provide people with an incentive not to use drugs. He signed the measure on June 1, calling it "the right thing for taxpayers."

Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify.

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Filed under: Florida • Politics
soundoff (637 Responses)
  1. Cathy

    I have been drug tested for thirty years to keep my job, its about time. I get it that there are people out there that need support to house and feed their families, but I refuse to use my hard earned money to support a drug habit. If I were on Medicaid and I had nothing to hide I would gladly be tested, as I am now, to keep my job. The only people who will cry privacy are the Medicaid recipents with a drug problem. I hope all states will follow, especially NY and NJ, what a mess!

    November 2, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Dixie

      So have I Cathy and if you get hurt on the job you are tested to see if you were on drugs. So why not them. I need money , I get tested, they need money , they get tested! What's the difference?

      December 3, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cassy

    I have to agree with most of the comments. There is no reason why people should not have to be drug tested in order to get government aid. It is not an invasion of privacy or against the bill of rights because you are volunteering for it, just like a job. According to an article written by Fred Lucas Obamam spent over $888 billion in the 2010 fiscal year just on government aid. This is more than was spent in the first year fighting the Iraq war in 2003. I think our troops should get more help than people who are abusing "the system." If there is nothing to hide than people should not have a problem being tested.

    November 14, 2011 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Trisha

    To drug test or not to drug test? That is the question, isn't it? I do not reside in Florida but feel very strongly about this topic. It is my opinion that if we as working class citizens have to be drug tested to have a job then why shouldn't welfare recipients have to be drug tested to get free aid? Some people have commented that Florida is not saving money by drug testing, that it is costing them more money to do so. I beg you to do your research. I am currently writing a research paper on this subject and would like to share a small bit of facts with you."According to the Sunshine News, in July, out of the 5964 Floridians who applied for cash assistance, 574 applicants tested positive and were denied any kind of aid and 565 never took the drug test. (Derby) In dollar language what this means is that when you take the 574 applicants who tested positive and deny them aid, Florida is saving almost $923,000. Florida spent less than $162,000 in reimbursements for negative results. This gives them a total of $761,000 savings roughly to date. (Derby) These numbers tell a different story. Florida has offered counseling services to those who fail the test and will allow someone else to receive the benefits on behalf of any children involved. Maybe some of these people who have turned to drugs could use this to their advantage and get the help they so desperately need. Just a thought!

    November 17, 2011 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. heidi

    Thank goodness! Finally! I support this action 100% and would like to see MORE restrictions on welfare. How about people who receive any type of government assistance do not get taxes back! They should be asked to contribute at least to their own program.

    November 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. hiway280z

    Kelli Then they get the drug test before the money is transferred to the card. Did you really find it necessary to comment if someone made a mistake on how they collect their welfare ? called them ignorant and dick head. For your information those of us who do not collect welfare but work for a living have no clue how they pay it. You seem to be well aware of how they get the money. Are you worried about taking the test to keep the check coming ? Makes one wonder.

    November 21, 2011 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. QUEN10

    I agree...If you want to borrow money from Government then on should take a drug test. They are too many people living off welfare just sitting at home watching T.V. on their big screen TV. he is obviously doing something that he /she had no business doing it in the first place.

    December 6, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  7. sweep

    Hey maybe we should check to see if they have cell phones, lexury car or nice 100 dollar sneakers. The bottom line is children always lose out when a parent is on drugs, despite money or not these children will always struggle with or without the money since the parent/s are irresponsible and really dont know how to be a parent. I am tired of working hard for my money, pay my taxes to see others who have no real desire to become better. I am for people who actively apply for jobs, go to school and work on a regular basis to help them, but whats even more irratiing is that a new low income housing complex opened near me and they an amenity center with a pool. I dont think that my tax money should be giving them perks like that. Its nice to have a pool but its not a necessity. Spend the extra money on programs for the children or parents to become educated, skill courses etc. When you receive something for free you should not gripe about it, be courteous and make better of yourself. I also think that people should have a limit on how long they can be on it. If they are not holding a job down or improving educationally then no money. When my mother was laid off the unemplyment office made her go to classes to get a secetarial certification otherwise she would not receieve unemployment benefits . good thing for her she was able to get a good paying jobin a hosiptal all at the age of 50.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      I agree with what your saying. I also think this will help to widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor.

      January 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JD

    I am all for temporarily helping someone in need. And all should pass some prudent requirements to receive it. The welfare system needs reformation to be a system of assistance to help ANY person get back on their feet and not a way of living.

    February 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Wild Willy

    I think drug testing is a great idea, partly because the ACLU opposes it. When do we start drug testing members of Congress? Are they no employee's of the Federal government? Did they have to pass a drug test?

    I think all candidates for public office should have to pass a drug test. If I have to suffer through one to get hired, so should they. Go Florida.

    March 7, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. chile abuse awareness

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    April 11, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian1961

    Widen the gap between the wealthy and the poor? If the poor want to tighten this gap, they can do what most of the rest of the country does and get a job!

    I think this is a great start and APPLAUD Florida for setting an example for the rest of the country. Hopefully my State (California) will follow suit.

    I like what I read also about senators and congressmen being tested, an IQ test would also be a good idea. I had to take a drug test (which I passed with flying colors) for my new job.

    June 27, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Tony

    The argument is it will take food from the children of the drug user. If the user can afford drugs than the user should be able to provide for his or her own children.

    September 27, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Maggy

    I am confused, I thought this was a commentary about the Florida government doing drug tests?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What does this have to do with Casey Anthony? Post elsewhere

    June 5, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JohnnyAstro

    Please, please, please stop posting about Casey Anthony. Not only is it completely off topic from an otherwise interesting conversation, but its nothing short of spam and you're not helping anyone by doing this. The poor girl is dead and everyone knows who did it. The system is a wreck and Casey should have been punished, but spamming this conversation won't change a thing, unfortunately, and all you're doing is helping promote her name. The best thing we can do is let Casey Anthony die forgotten.

    July 20, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  15. Maggy

    Maggy

    I am confused, I thought this was a commentary about the Florida government doing drug tests????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????What does this have to do with Casey Anthony? Post elsewhere

    June 5, 2011 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
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