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. Gerry Morales

    I totally agree with this. This in no way is invasion of privacy...no more than it is for people who has the privilege to be working.
    If there is nothing to hide what is the issue?
    If it were up to me there would be a limit to the length of time a person can receive these benefits...I would even put them to work as customer service reps from home or catalog order takers...provide them with the computer and land line if needed and monitor them...this fulfills two things...keeping jobs in the US and more importantly giving welfare recipients a sense of worth and pride. Just my opinion...

    June 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hard Working Tax Paying American

      I agree with this new law.. I also agree that EVERY state should implement this. But I dont agree with stereotyping. Not all people that receive assistance are, A.) Unemployed or B.) Using Drugs... I believe this will definately help weed out some of the bad ones who arent smart enough to pass a drug test and yes I believe there are alot of people out there that do abuse the system. In fact I know some personally. However I was unemployeed in January, I looked for a job for nearly 2 months before applying for assistance. While getting assistance it still took me nearly 2 months to find a job.. Well I am still on assistance because that job ONLY pays 7.25 an hour.. Minimum wage does not pay the bills. Maybe instead of trying to figure out how to give less people assistance they should still be working on trying to rebuild our jobs. FYI.. Most customer service rep jobs.. Still barely pay enough to put food on the table. With the economy, even if you have a qualified education, finding a job paying more than $10-$15 an hour is hard.

      June 7, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gnatty

    There is no stereotyping about this law! I've worked hard since the day I turned 14 and have taken a drug test for every single job I've had. I paid taxes out of every drug-tested paycheck so that this country can have programs for those who need it. There is no reason that those receiving said benefits should not have to be drug-tested too. If I have to pass a test to CONTRIBUTE money to the program then they should have to pass a test to TAKE money from the program.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ItsMe

      Amen to that! This law needs to be passed in EVERY state.

      June 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MOM

    RIGHT ON!!! If I have to take a drug test for my JOB then they should have to drug test to NOT have a job!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tax Payer in facor of drug testing!!

    Why should I or anyone else have to pay for welfare recipients who are not sober or clean? They need to make this a law across the entire United States. I am not against welfare and not against helping those who cannot help themselves but come on people...I was drug tested when I was hired to my job and a lot of welfare people consider welfare their " pay check "(I've heard them say it when delivering their mail) so they should be tested!!!!.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mssy e

    This is who y'all voted for! WOW!

    June 7, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Oh No

    Obama will never let this slide. A large portion of his voters fall into these camps and will be affected.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former child that lives today because of welfare

      Uhm, excuse me. I voted for Obama and I would gladly support this law being passed in my state (and EVERY state) of America.

      June 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  7. alyssa dahlberg

    I think its about time someone puts an end to an over abused privlage. Why should hard working americans be required to a UA and someone on welfare not. Give that money to people who actually need it in a tough time. Not just because they can. Two thumbs up to you florida hopefully other states will follow in your footsteps soon.

    June 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. independent minded

    Everyone seems to have and emotional response to this (stupid, lazy, drugies shouldn't get my money), but this ridiculous emotional response in politics is why we are in the mess we are in. It should boil down to two things,
    1. does drug testing in actuality increase the amount of money that goes to the actual needy and
    2. what is the financial cost of the testing and is it countered by any actual savings by keeping the money out of the pockets of people who don't need it. Would love to see a study addressing this, but doubt it exists. Again, just a politician pandering to the emotion of the masses

    June 7, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Readb4talk

      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. The Florida law just evens the playing field for all. You want a job? Pass a drug screen. You want gov't assistance? Pass a drug screen. If anything, this law is simply an "anti-drug law.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Celeste

      Agreed. I don't think the issue is with the drug testing of the client but with the cost to the system. Seasoned druggies won't bat an eye, they know how to avoid a positive drug test. The only thing this will acheive is more money needlessly wasted that could be used for good somewhere else. Apparantly Governor Scott doesn't have a clue that people who have to apply for this assistance (TANF) probably don't have money to spend on a drug test. How about this system be connected to the criminal records system (public record)...free information about drug use among other things.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Nate

    Way to go Florida Gov. Rick Scott!!!! All states should follow suit, immediately! The ACLU needs to get A-CLU! America is so tired of them! I seriously hope the FBI takes note of everyone who is against this... so they can plan whom to raid next!

    June 7, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Karen

    If working people have to take a drug test to be employed, why can't people on welfare be tested to stay on? I agree there are people that are deserving of the assistance they get but there are other who abuse it beyond measures. If all are honest and in need they shouldn't worry about taking the damn pee test. I say pass the law!

    June 7, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. alr

    It's not a stereotype if its true. If welfare participants aren't abusing drugs then why should they he concerned about the drug testing? I can be tested at my place if employment. So why not?

    June 7, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Former child that lives today because of welfare

      I'd rather see my tax dollars be spent on helping support the children who live through (or die from) the kinda hell caused by drug addicted "parents" who choose to abuse the system to support their own selfishness above their children. I've seen drug addicted adults trade their EBT cards to dealers to support their habits... There is no easy solution to this but it's a mountain that needs to be climbed and it has to start somewhere.... And yes, any kind of drugs can be "comforting" but if it causes you to lose your grip on reality while your children suffer, you need some intervention... Just sayin'

      June 8, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. yali

    I think all states should pass this and should also look into the ones who are screwing the system. Do they know how many times I see people leaving the grocery store after paying with their EBT card only to put their bags in a newer BMW or Lexus?

    June 7, 2011 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. This wont work

    I think this will only increase crime and poverty. I know quite a few addicts and have flirted with it myself with legal substances.
    What law makers and the general population don't understand about addicts and the mind of addicts are that drugs are more important than anything else. Drugs are a best friend, and are a bigger love than themselves. An addict will put drugs before their family, before money, before their own health.
    If you smoke cigarettes, how would you feel if someone took away your pack? Take that feeling and multiply it. An addict isn't going to say "Oh, let me quit these drugs so I can collect welfare". An addict is going to forget welfare and find other means to get paid, ways you probably won't like.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. California tax payer

    I feel this is something that should have been done a long time ago. That every state you have everyone on aid get tested.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Melissa

    I 100% agree with the new law. I believe anyone getting any goverment assistance like food stamps, TANF, unemployment, medicaid, social security etc. should be drug tested. If you have a prescription for the medications you take you have no problems. People abuse the system and pass down generation to generation on how to slip through the loops of goverment assistance! This is not taking food out of children! I am a parent and know damn well if my 4 yr old is hungry and I have no food and dont qualify for assistance, there are churches or soup kitchens to go to. Some people are just lazy and not HUNGRY enough to get off their lazy butts and do something about it.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
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