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. take back america

    I think they should just abolish welfare altogether...if u cant afford to raise ur kids, then there are plenty of childless people out there that would love to have those children...and would work hard to take care of them. Lets face it...welfare is not a hand up...it is a way of life for dead beats who dont want to work.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nic

      I know drug free people on welfare who work hard but just do not make enough to put as much food on the table for their family as they would like and those are the main ones who deserve it. They pay the taxes that go towards welfare too. I don't agree that welfare should be abolished at all but I think it's a great idea to require drug testing to get it because I also know people on welfare who are drug abusers and will not do anything to better themselves so welfare is their ticket to being lazy and not having to work to eat.

      June 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • take back america

      Well, Nic, I think it is all about personal responsibility. I have never taken any kind of assistance from the government because of the choices in my life that I made. I don't thnk I should have to pay for someone else's poor choices. Also, I dont believe your welfare freind pays any taxes...cuz there is that wonderful SECOND WELFARE program called earned income credit that our wise President Clinton signed into law...that is you are a low income worker, you can get up to about $7,000 back in money you didnt even pay into the system. You get more with kiddies, of course. I used to be a income tax preparer...we would have mommas call in to see if they should work a little more, or quit their jobs, cuz they were aiming for the max of EIC they could get. PUH-LEEEZZZZ!

      June 7, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anonymous

      I don't agree welfare should be abolished. Drug testing yes, but sometimes people just need some extra help. We just had our first child; we both work, my bf even has 2 jobs and I'm in a Management position making a very good wage for my area. Our daughter was born 6 weeks early and as a result, I had to deliver 100 miles from home to be at a hospital with a NICU. I had to stay there with her for 2 weeks, and even though I had saved up $2000 cash just to help while I'm on unpaid maternity leave (I am using vacation time, but don't have enough since I went into labor earlier than expected I have 50 hours fewer than I planned on) I ended up having to buy several preemie items and paying room and board while staying there.
      I just applied for assistance for a month; the last month of my maternity leave, 3 weeks which I have no income and was denied! Why? Because there are many 'welfare suckers' out there, so good people who need help once in awhile, who do work hard can't get help. I've been working since I was 15 and haven't went longer than one month without a job since then, so I do pay more than my fair share of taxes to these programs, only to get denied help when I need it.

      June 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      It really doesn't matter what you WANT your tax money to go to... if it wasn't going to welfare it would just go to something else.... Its not like if they cut out welfare taxes will go down. Drug testing is fine... at least you can see your money go to some good.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoshP

      Do you have any idea how many kids are in the foster care system in this country? Do you have any idea what we'll do with the addicts? Pay even more money to jail them instead of trying to help them and their families in the first place! Society is a system and we all pay for the issues society faces one way or another. you are highly uninformed or ill-informed on welfare and social issues so perhaps you should keep your mouth shut about issues you obviously know nothing about. these ignorant comments hurt society as much or more as addicts do!

      June 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • take back america

      Hey Josh B...I have a good idea about what to do with the addicts...there are some deserted island stretches out there...and since YOU want to take care of them, perhaps you should go onto one with them. I may be "ill informend" or whatever you want to call me...but, I won't keep my mouth shut...I am supp-osedly an AMERICAN and since I am stuck seeing ONE THIRD of my earnings go to taxes that support the deadbeats you are so in love with, I have a right to speak.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • xtine

      Jesus... I hope you never get laid off if that's how you feel..


      June 8, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • take back america

      xtine...arent we talking about drug testing??? I said send the addicts to a deserted island..not people who are simply laid off. By the way, if I was laid off, I would get another job...there really are jobs out there...but some people would rather collect their 99 weeks of unemployment, therefore making them part of the unemployment statistic...and I guess u cant blame em. But...for those who want to work...at least where I live...there are jobs. If there aren't any where u live...move to somplace where there are...N Dakota for instance. Or go back to school...now that is government money well spent...u qualify for pell grants if u r low income. By the way, I really am not a heartless biatch...if I knew someone was really down on their luck and usually a productive member of society, I would b all for helping...but, too many people are on the government from the cradle to the grave...and we have to start somewhere to fix this....and drug testing and saying no to the abusers is a great place to start.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. Beth

    I agree with this 110%. I just hope now that all the other states will follow starting with NH. I have a feeling if they do this at least 60% of ppl will get denied in the New England area alone And has anyone thought about now that this has been announced, what is going to stop the ppl who use marijuana to drink one of those drinks that hide it, or they stop til they come up clean then go back on it? There are ways around these things so I hope this is not just a one time thing. If most work places where u accually work for your money has random drug testing, then they should test this out and THEN go to random after 6 months, no warning, cuz those that have nothing to hide, will continue to their help and those that try to get around things, well, you will be caught and thats more money we dont have to pay to support your drug habits! !

    June 7, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. S Johnson

    What boggles my mind is why a measure like this would need to be defended in the first place. Is it really worth the risks listed by Governor Scott just to avoid the idea that someone might get their feelings hurt because of an "ugly stereotype"?

    Well gee. I should have gone to the ACLU during my high school years and had them file suit against my school because I was branded as a "nerd' and picked on. That "unfortunate stereotype" may have damaged my delicate, teenage psyche, which means I deserve compensation, right?

    Welfare has its place–and it's a good place when used right. I think that ensuring the appropriate distribution of tax dollars is much more in the public's best interest than protecting people from "unfortunate stereotypes." Let's get help to those who need it–not to druggees who abuse the system, and create further problems.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cane

    The welfare concept has helped people.. I know people who were assisted as recent legal immigrants, learned English, became naturalized citizens, worked, got off of welfare and bought a house in an upscale neighborhood thanks to saving and did it with no formal college education, working blue-collar jobs while raising two young children.

    Shouldn't we create more stories like that, by adding work-related requirements, annual random evaluations and limitations on length of benefits? I mean drug tests is a completely OK rule, cause no one on Welfare shouldn't break the law while receiving these benefits. Who cares if it is a stereotype or not? If 10% of people on Welfare are drug users – that's a great statistic to promote. We're just scared that it's a lot more than 10%.

    June 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maggie

    I think this is a great idea! I wish more states will follow in Florida's footsteps. I'm not saying that all people on welfare are drug users, but I know that at least here in California, there is a large number of people on welfare who are. Walfare is there to help low income families, who need it; not to support drug users. If hard working people are required to undergo drug screens for employments why not perform drug screens on people on welfare, to weed out those who abuse the benefits.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Desert Butterfly

    It's about time!!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Desert Butterfly

    It about time!!!! If we have to take one to work....so should anyone receiving our hard earned taxes!

    June 7, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ricki bobbi

    yes yes yes, go after a completely powerless population to score political points and enrich yourself, any thoughts on how corrupt this guy is, he owns drug testing companies, PEOPLE, please! , also, I don't want my tax dollars going to the military industrial complex or tax breaks to already wealthy corporations. These are power centers that lay waste to the US and the rest of the world, have a nice day

    June 7, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. K. Smith

    I agree with the requirement of drug testing. There are some people out there who do try as hard as they can and they still cannot make it on with out some help, but there are so many people on welfare they cannot get any help. If you do as hard as you can and still need help, you should be able to pass a drug test because you do not have any extra money. And the people who cant will learn the hard way to grow up. I think it is a good way to cut back government spending and at the same time promote how drugs are bad.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris

    Yay! I LOVE this idea! I know people who have utilized the welfare system to get back on their feet. I also know people who have abused the system to avoid working and even to support drug use. I do feel the entire welfare system needs to be taken apart and re-worked. I can appreciate that we can not wait for this to happen in one large reform. I think drug testing ALL people receiving funds is a great idea. These funds do not just magically appear. Hard WORKING americans pay for them. We need to remind people that the GOVERNMENT is NOT providing this assistance. They are just giving away OUR HARD EARNED money.

    June 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ralph

    What is strange is that his old career owning most of Hospital Corporation of America does a lot of the testing for government jobs. Not to mention his wife's money coming from solantic, a drug testing facility.... I'm actually for the idea of drug tests for welfare recipients, just wish it wasn't a HUGE conflict of interest for the governor.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Justin

    About time.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. CaliGal

    Bring it to California!!! Stat! Im 38 and had to use welfare for six months after I was wrongly terminated the day I found out i was Preggers. With one child already and just just recently quit my second job because I was making great money at my day job, I needed immediate help to keep our apt. I found a job within two weeks but because they found out i was preggers the job suddenly was unavailable. I only received $525 a month from AFDC and $300 in Food Stamps. So i worked temp jobs up to the day before I gave birth to supplement my income. Two weeks after that I went back to another temp job and the company bought my contract that same week because they loved me so much. So see it has good use for familes that dont abuse the system. I know lots if women who so use it. I even know one who couldnt get welfare so she acted like she had mental problems to get social security. They gave it to her and there isnt a damn thing wrong with her. I reported her twice and still nothing has been done 2 years later.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Former child that lives today because of welfare

    When my bum of a "bio father" abandoned his wife and two young daughters, we had no way to survive without welfare assistance. I grew up, got a job, got married (to a welfare survivor) and we had two children of our own. I swore to myself that we would never force our children to go through that humiliation. But it happened, for a SHORT time. It helped us keep our children fed, housed and healthy while we regrouped and looked for new jobs. The job I got was at a grocery store and NOTHING annoyed me more than the obviously stoned customers I had to check out while they stood there oblivious to their children who were running wild... especially when they paid for a full buggy of junk food with food stamps, little bit at time (so they could get change). WAKE UP, America! EVERY state should require drug testing for welfare recipients for the sake of our children!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Texas Momma

      AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!! Pass this across the USA!!!!!!! I agree, it's so annoying to know that my tax dollars go to pay for families whose "adults" are too lazy to get a real job &/or just wanna sell drugs. Meanwhile my husband & I work full time + side jobs & still find ourselves struggling at times. Welfare should be when people really NEED it. And what really burns me up is seeing these "food stamp" women with their hair & nails done. OOhhhh....that is not right!

      June 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Dorsey

      Congrats on your success. There will always be times when people need a hand. A lot of jobs require random drug tests, why should welfare/food stamps be any different. The only difference is you don't have to work to get assistance. Every state should implement this law.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      I know, I work at a grocery store and see the steaks, lobsters, shrimps and all the other high dollar food being paid for with food stamps by people who are stoned out of their gord. Not to mention I have wittnessed a person using food stamps to buy food and then taking cash from the person next to them and the other walking away with the groceries! BS MAN!!

      June 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wittybittyknitty

    These politicians think they are so freakin' smart. They will get clean. Pee clean. Then go back to drug use. This is classism. This is to shame poor people. We have an increase in poverty because of what the weathy people did, like put us into 2 wars we have no business in. We are in this mess because of policy that was put in place that did not benefit the middle class. Policies that drove a lot of middle class families into poverty. I work. I have a BA. I can't find work. I have foodstamps. I'm not a drug user. I pay taxes for those foodstamps. I buy things in the store and pay taxes on those things. I buy gas and pay taxes on that. I buy clothes for my children and pay taxes. It's called the working poor. I wish people would realize the percentage of people on welfare that use drugs is not as high as the people who actually need it. I hope he can sleep well at night knowing he can control and shame the poor.

    June 7, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • wittybittyknitty

      I work but I can't find a job that pays enough to support my family.

      June 7, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taxpaying citizen

      If you are not a drug user then you should have no problem taking a drug test!

      June 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • mememe

      If you arent a drug user why are you worried? you should have nothing to fear so stop crying... The people that respond to this law in a negitive way are prolly the ones that will not be able to keep their welfare!!! and I say good... you dont deserve it...

      June 7, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • MOM

      I commend you for all YOU do as a deserving citizen. I understand NEEDING government assistance as I have been there myself... however there are people that abuse assistance. Youre right some of them will take something and pass the test but hopefully this will weed out the bad ones. Most companys require drug testing for a job, so why is it so wrong for the government? Drug are illegal so those that choose to break the law should not have the privledge of assistance.

      June 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clyrissa

      Who gets hurt by this drug testing law? Parents get tested and their children are deprived of food! My opinion is this: If you are required to pass a drug test in order to feed your kids (who presumably are not using illegal drugs) put the offenders into a mandatory rehab program. Don't punish the innocent kids who were delt a losing hand in the first place. Probation, rehab...these are more humaine solutions.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Readb4talk

      "Classism"? The entire welfare and gov't asistance program by definition is classism. Requiring a drug test has nothing to do with "classism". People of all classes and socio-economic status are often mandated to take a pre-employment drug screen. Instead of complaining, think about how this will actually weed out the abusers ( bad pun), and give people an incentive either to become clean or stay clean. If not for themselves, then for their children! Presently, a drug user shies away from getting a job because he knows he won't pass the pre-employment drug screen – so instead, he gets free gov't assistance without a drug screen! Not only is that unfair, it does nothing to improve our culture. It's a reward system to drug abusers.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      Exactly, if your not a drug abuser than you shouldnt worry about it.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
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