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. bellamusephotography

    So what does that say about working employees who are subject to random drug testing? Is there a stereotype that says that if you have a job and get paid, you're a drug user? NO. No one assumes that welfare recipients are drug users, either. Someone sure is defensive about it, though!

    "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.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessyca

      EXACTLY!!!! The gov't should be glad someone FINALLY stood up and made a change that needed to be done years ago. And sorry to say, but I know A LOT of people on welfare and ALL of them do some kind of drug, sell their food stamps or something else to use and abuse the system. Why I have been struggling to find a job for over a year and because I get a little bit of unemployment money and don't have any kids, I do NOT qualify for ANY gov't assistance. The least they can do is take a drug test to make them show they can be responsible adults just the same as the working Americans!!!

      June 7, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Penny

    Yay, Rick Scott !!!!!! It's about time someone stood up. ACLU is going to bat for all the losers and drug addicts. Says a lot about the ACLU.
    I have to take a drug test to be employed. And I am subjected to random tests whenever my company wants. I have no problem with that. I work in a good and safe enviroment.
    People who really need help will have no problem with taking the test as well. ONLY the guilty will complain !

    June 7, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jamrrs2

    I have been required to take a drug test for 3 jobs...one for the Federal Government! If I have to be drug tested to work, welfare recipients should be required to take one NOT to work! I am sick and tired of paying for other people. No one helps me and I struggle everyday to make ends meet. I was buying a sandwich once at a deli when another customer offered to "pay" for my food with his food stamps in exchange for the cash! Guess I would've paid for the sandwich TWICE since I paid for him to have food stamps!

    June 7, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. IM4GIVENANDBLESSED

    Many people have posted concern about the welfare of the children that are supposed to be fed and clothed via the funds they receive to take care of their family. Many children are NOT getting the care they need via the money that is intended for the family NOW. Many who are accepting funds for their children are abusing it by selling or trading it for drugs. If the parents are found to have drugs in their system, the children will then be taken from them and placed in protective custody.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. xtine

    I have been a full time employed single mother of 2 for many years. We only receive a very small amount of foodstamps and a medical card... No cash. My children are very loved and taken care of.
    2 yrs ago I was lucky enough to get to go to Vermont to visit family thanks to my wealthy older sister.
    In Vermont marijuana isn't demonized and for up to a certain amount is legal.
    For the first time since my teenage years, I indulged. And in the comfort of knowing I wasn't breaking a law. It was a one time thing.
    Had my state passed the law and I were tested and failed, I would have lost the assistance I have depended on for years to be able to provide for my children more than what some food pantry can.
    And that previous comment about children of welfare families are already at a loss because their parents are probably selling or trading it for drugs is the most closed minded, ignorant, and judgmental thing.I have ever read. It's.people like you that make hard working single mothers (with deadbeat dads and no child support who play the role of both mom and dad) feel ashamed Everytime she signs her kids up for free or reduced school lunches, or shops using her foodstamp card.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • BSD

      Xtine,
      Had your state passed this law, would you have experimented in Vermont? If you are the responsible single mother you say you are, then I am pretty sure that you would not have.
      This law is geared towards the HABITUAL users who try to work the system so that they can fund their habit.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mmeyer

      No, it's the people on welfare who do those things that make this necessary. And hopefully, if you knew you might get tested, you would have been smart enough not to do the pot, which has no real benefit anyway. Our hard-earned money should NEVER be used for drugs, by ANYONE. If this is a way to help stop that from happening, what's the big deal? If you aren't using, you won't have a problem. Same argument I have used every time someone complains about getting tested for a job. Excuse me? You don't think the people that are committing thousands of dollars to you don't have a right to know if their money is wasted, or you are a liability to their company? Get real!

      June 7, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • against new law

      Although this law may sound like a good idea, it is not comprehensive and fails to make some important considerations. It fails to consider children who will be deprived of their basic life necessities because of their parents' actions. It fails to get at the scope of the issue–appropriate usage of welfare funds. It makes prejudice assumptions about welfare users and assumes just because someone can pass a drug test, they are not using drugs. There are many marijuana users who simply clean their system before a drug test. Instead of drug testing everyone, the funds should just be monitored more closely. I.e. create a bank card for welfare users and monitor the transactions to ensure money is not being spent inappropriately. Don't let children be the victims. This may create a viscious cycle of socio-economic class reproduction. Denying children the resources to achieve socio-economic mobility is not the solution to the issue. There must be an alternative solution to ensure appropriate allocation and spending.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • red

      Actually it is illegal in vermont too. Medical use is approved by I'm guessing it wasn't medical. I struggle everyday to make ends meet and my family helps me out. So my question to you is you get money from the state does your "wealthy" sister not want to help you out or her own neice and nephew

      June 7, 2011 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie F

      To XTINE – If you were really the responsible mom you claim to be, you would never have "indulged" to begin with. Whether or not it's legal where you indulged makes no difference whatsoever. I was a single mother and raised 2 boys all on my own, no child support, no welfare, nothing. I waited tables and cleaned houses for 20 years while my kids were growing up. Never once did I "indulge" even when I was in a state where personal use was legal. I PUT MY KIDS BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE. Once they were grown, I could indulge again. I think this is a GREAT thing!!!

      June 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • cristine

      so i'm assuming you've never drank alcohol while you had children either? marijuana is judged culturally and religously, as is drinking. I don't know which one is worse.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christie F

      To cristine – Actually, no I didn't drink while I was raising my children and I rarely drink now that my children are grown. I'm not against pot at all. I think it should be legalized and taxed like cigarettes and those taxes used to pay off our national debt. However, don't you think that those who apply for assistance should be held accountable? If you need or want the assistance, how can you justify spending ANY money on ANY drugs or alcohol? That's the issue.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • xtine

      So Christie... It's also safe to say you never once went somewhere without your kids, bought yourself a new outfit or a necklace you didn't.really need.but knew you deserved? You never went out to lunch with your girlfriends? It's a Damn shame to have never indulged.

      And red... That was the first time in my entire life I had ever met my sister.... I most definently would not have asked her to support me and my children and why would you assume she should have to?
      My own taxes pay for my assistance.. I said before, and I will remind you once again, because apparently you missed it.. I have worked all of my adult life and majority of that has been full time.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michelle

    I have to say It's about time! If I have to be drug tested @ my job then everyone shou,d be drug tested to get wefare! I hope all states follow.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Tiny

    If I have to take a drug to receive my earnings, someone getting a portion of my earnings for doing nothing should certainly have to. There's nothing "racist" about it.

    Why is it groups like the ACLU always cry "racism" when they have no other real argument.

    Cowards.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. tom

    "What (Scott) is doing is giving ugly legitimacy to an unfortunate stereotype that has been in this country for a couple of decades ".... so what the aclu is saying is that every person who applies for a job is a drug addict too> they are required to be tested and the aclu thinks that is ok

    June 7, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. single mama

    Hey look. I 100% agree with requiring people to be drug tested to receive any assistance. It would help to weed out those who just use and abuse a system that is intended to help those in real need. I would like to comment about the amount of assumptions I have been reading regarding ALL welfare beneficiaries. First, Some people really do need the help, they are hard working regular people who perhaps lost their job due to the crappy economy, or they do work but money is tight and they need the Food Stamp help. People are way to judgmental, and you wouldn't be saying that if you lost your job and needed the help, or if your spouse died and you were trying to support your kids on one income when your used to have two. It happens. I have worked a full time job most of my life as a single mom with two kids. I paid my own way with no assistance at all. It was tough but I did it. When my son was diagnosed I had to quit my full time job to stay home and help him for awhile....my one year off turned to two, then the economy went to hell. I do not receive cash aid, I do get medical help, I do get some food stamps. I did work full time for many many years and put in my share of tax dollars and will do it again when my child is completely stable. I do NOT and have never done drugs. Stop assuming. I have also had my nails done while I was getting food stamps, because my friend who does it for a living would do them for me for free as a way to allow me to have something done for me. Some of you have no idea what your talking about. Don't assume the worse of people. Stick to the subject. Those who use and abuse the system should be weeded out so that those who really need the help and want to work can.
    There is also a difference between someone who is addicted to drugs but willing to get help and those who dont. Dont mix the two. Highly paid corporate workers have lost it all to drugs too!! There just needs to be rules that are reasonable.
    The real problem is most states give more help to those who wont help themselves instead of helping those who just need a leg up. I hope all states adopt the law requiring testing. I also hope they offer help and rehab for those who fail it. 🙂
    You dont know how or why people are in the situation they are. Offer help instead of insults. Tough love to those who dont want to help themselves. This world would be a much better place to live.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. against new law

    Although this law may sound like a good idea, it is not comprehensive and fails to make some important considerations. It fails to consider children who will be deprived of their basic life necessities because of their parents' actions. It fails to get at the scope of the issue–appropriate usage of welfare funds. It makes prejudice assumptions about welfare users and assumes just because someone can pass a drug test, they are not using drugs. There are many marijuana users who simply clean their system before a drug test. Instead of drug testing everyone, the funds should just be monitored more closely. I.e. create a bank card for welfare users and monitor the transactions to ensure money is not being spent inappropriately. Don't let children be the victims. This may create a viscious cycle of socio-economic class reproduction. Denying children the resources to achieve socio-economic mobility is not the solution to the issue. There must be an alternative solution to ensure appropriate allocation and spending.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Searndipity

      If mommy is addicted to meth, it is likely her children are already being denied the basic life necessities.
      Secondly, if a parent tests positive they can designate someone on their behalf to receive their child's benefits and enter a rehab program and re-apply in 6 months.
      Lastly, if people think drug testing is an assault on privacy, I doubt having the government "spy" on their welfare benefit usage would really fly. In any event, they would just "sell" their welfare card to the drug dealers like they already do with the food stamp cards.
      You are right on two fronts, however, it does not address the issue of appropriate usage of welfare funds, only personal accountability will do that and our society is seriously lacking that value. Secondly, just because someone tests clean ONCE does NOT mean they aren't using drugs. Without random testing, the ones that manage to stay clean to obtain benefits will likely not have incentive to remain so.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • working class

      I second serendipity!

      June 8, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. sandy

    In regards to the children who won't have the money because of their parents actions.... hopefully the state is intelligent enough to take the kids away from parents who fail the drug test and put them in a better home

    June 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. phil

    Hey Gov, what bout the kids you claim to care about? If Mom or Dad has a substance abuse problem guess they just gotta go hungry?

    June 7, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MAH

    Why aren't more people upset by the fact that Governor Scott owns a drug testing business, even though he said he would sell it, that business just took a jump in value. Conflict of interest here, that is why he is so set on this law.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Danny

    Omg. It's about time. For the last 10 years I have had to take a drug test to be employed in the gas and oil industry. Some times twice a year. While I'm working paying taxs supporting these government assistance programs knowing full well a huge majority are using it for drugs and alcohol. I can see there being a surplus of money. Maybe this will help the people who really need it. Better programs for less fortunate kids and there parents.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • ignorance is everywhere!!!

      why humilate this people if this is the case everyone receiving WIC, Healthy start, Social Security, and healthcare should be tested all funding come from tax payers FYI the max a welfare family of 3 can get is $303 a month most druggies dont have children to raise therefore no welfare and draw social security for HIV,AIDS or mental illness if these people are using $303 or less to get high the homeless rate would be enormous lets just face it the governors a red neck racist and believes the stereotype i hope the state is ready there's going to be alot of lawsuits filed... this is crazy in 2011 there is still racism after we've all passed drug test we will sue the state and never need welfare again!! sounds good to me 🙂

      June 7, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dania

      Wow... really? Racist and a redneck b/c he thinks that those who are getting welfare should be tested? Oh and your comment "most druggies dont have children to raise" is sooooo off base it's not even funny. Most people who get welfare get it b/c they HAVE children. There are people who are out doing drugs, selling drugs, making crap loads of money doing so, living off the state. They're living in Section places that look a lot better than what people who work their butts off do (some that work don't even have a place to live), driving around in cars that they've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on, the women are spending money getting their done, their nails done and buying clothes. They use each others kids to get MORE money for welfare. Yet you have people like Danny and others who have to get drug tested to work even at an amusement park or a restaurant. They aren't getting FREE help from TAXPAYERS, they're paying for these people to get free moeny and for them it is free b/c they're not working to pay into the taxes. As for WIC, I sure as hell would love for them to do it, b/c if a mom who is pregnant is using drugs... she needs to get help for that for the child, and make sure she is doing what she needs to do. SS too, if you're getting it for a medical disability that's one thing, or b/c you're retired, that's another, but to get it just so you can get free money, hell yeah test them. If these people have nothing to worry about then what is the big deal? It's not infringing on their rights, it's not asking them to do anything that people GETTING A JOB, have to do. So why should they get money for free w/o having to prove that it's not being used to supplement their drug habits?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Victor

      There are tons of white people on welfare. I'm Latino and grew up on welfare. I hate the poverty trap that we call welfare. It keeps people enslaved to poverty. This law will help people get out. We can't make poverty and drug abuse comfortable. It's goota hurt so people will fight for themselves and get out. Welfare should be temporary aid with empowering restrictions. It has become a prison for the poor so they keep voting for the people who make them comfortable. Liberals act like they care about poor people but the just use them for power. If they really cared they would instate policies that get people out of welfare not keep them in it. What our governor did was display some much needed tough love. I applaud Govenor Rick Scott!

      June 8, 2011 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
  15. killedbyreality

    drug test ALL OF THEM! this is LOGICAL! but you know we are in america where logic really doesn't come easy.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
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