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. Kristi

    I think drug testing people who are requesting help from us is a good idea. I wouldn't give a dollar to my own family member if I knew it was going to feed a drug habit. I would be contributing to their fall. I would have no problem paying for them to go to treatment if they had an addiction and I have no problem paying to help them get on their feet but, I do not want to pay them to help destroy themselves and their family. TANF is only for parents with children....FYI. (I was on TANF at one time and I would have never had an issue having someone drug test me...I used the money to help get on my feet so I could take care of my Children myself. Now I pay into taxes to help someone else that NEEDS it)

    June 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whatahotmess

      We should have drug tested everyone who got a stimulous handout too, huh?! And while we are at it, why not drug test every politician? We pay for them, so why not?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • jgirl

      Why not drug test ever politician? They are a government employ. Millitary members get tested every month and have to take breathalizers. Lets make people reliable for their actions! America needs to stop being afraid of stepping on peoples toes. We do not have to accept every person for the way they are.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. kelly

    I think this is smartest thing that a government representative has done in a long time. I bet it save florida taxpayers a lot of money. I'm really interested to see if they save money.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lolita

    It's a great idea but it'll never go! Just like AZ trying so hard to ID people, who are Hispanic or speak with an accent to see whether they are legally in this country. It's a WASTE of tax payers money when all the law suits take place. I think drug test is good but there are honest people, who are trying hard to get off the welfare system. It pays them very little. We need to concentrate on finding them work. Requirement for school should be mandatory.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      I think its a great idea! I used to work at a grocery store and people would come in with food stamps. They would buy lobsters, have their nails and hair done, cell phones, pagers, pimp daddies... Yet when my mom was just barely scrapping by, they denied her. Explain that?

      June 8, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Travis

    What happened to the whole concept of "limited government"?...It seems as if Republicans will call the government to enforce anything if it doesn't involve them.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Striation

      Travis, this law is limiting government. One of the main ways that I as a conservative want to see limited government is the enacting of criteria within all welfare type programs that limit the possibility for waste, fraud, and abuse of the funds that are distributed from taxpayers to those that are in NEED. One of the first things that must be done if these programs are to continue is to differentiate between those who are truly in NEED and those that are looking for opportunities to have others support their lifestyle. Welfare should not be an end (a lifestyle), but rather a means to an end, and that end should be re-employment and self sufficiency for those that are capable. If someone is doing drugs while on welfare their chances for re-employment are greatly diminished. If someone knows that they will be required to pass a drug test prior to receiving assistance that should motivate them to stay off drugs and thus be more marketable in the job field. I not only hope that this law proves to be successful in Florida, but that after doing so it will spread to other states as well.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      So very true! Big brother is watching...

      June 8, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  5. catgoode

    I think every state should do it that way it will give the family's that truly need the help a better chance of getting it. As a working single mother I need the help and don't recieve enough of it due to the addicts that get it first

    June 8, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. EmagehtmaI

    It's about time. I've had to take a drug test for almost every job I've ever had, why not them? There's nothing racist or redneck about it. It's about personal responsibility. The whole point of welfare is to give people some assistance when they're down, to give them time to build themselves back up. Welfare was originally meant to be a temporary solution. It was never meant to be permanent, but some people have made it just that. If you're just a crack head who's going to sell their food stamps to get drug money, you don't need to be on welfare. If you're a welfare mother who pops out a new kid every 3 years just to keep the foodstamps coming, well, that's your prerogative, but we want to make sure those children are in a safe environment, right? It's for the children, after all. I would also be in favor of collecting cell phones at welfare offices. If you need food stamps to eat, you probably don't need an iPhone (data plans are expensive).

    Just so we're clear, I come from a family that has received food stamps in the past, after my parents separated. It was only until we got on our feet and didn't need them anymore. It was not – and never intended to be – permanent. I know what I'm talking about.

    June 8, 2011 at 1:56 am | Report abuse |
  7. OutofMyMind

    I believe drug testing would not be profitable in the state of Florida or any other state(with money issues) due to the cost of all the testing, but it would eliminate drug abuse. I am all for the drug testing! Maybe it'll help me out more. I am a full-time student at a University and a single mother. My child's father hasn't helped me out much, but was selfish enough to get his B.A. & get me pregnant while trying for mine...enough said about that, but I see people who do nothing but sit on their butts & receive payoff, but when someone is trying to better their life (myself )recieve nothing for trying to obtain a degree while keeping a job. I live in assisted housing which is inspected every 3 mths which is annoying, childcare meetings which disturb my studies, food stamp renewls every 6 months, social workers who wants updates fom my professors everyday, welfare & housing wanting to know how much I recieve in student loans so they can deduct my stamps and increase my rent, both wanting to know if I have ever had any stocks or bonds (which I dont),...basically alot of things to worry about so why not drug test if I a single mother, a student, a worker has to go through all this b.s to obtain assistance while others who do nothing sit on the ass & recieve all the goods w/o having to go through this!!!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 2:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. working class

    This is a great thing. For people thinking the government should stay out of it, you're right. They should stay out of my pocket! But that will never happen so atleast they can start by controling how our money is being used. For theses that think people with kids don't use drugs, think again. I've known people with children that sell food stamps via buying someone's groceries so they can buy weed. And as for testing them all. Test them all! Unemployment, wic, welfare, test every person that works in america! You can't get a dime without passing a test. And don't just test them once, test them randomly after that! Test the government! I don't care. Sounds like a plan to me.

    June 8, 2011 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike


    June 8, 2011 at 2:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    Yes! On the random tests afterhand too! And yeah, if you honestly belive that people with kids DONT buy drugs... you're completely ignorant!! And you probly have kids, are on welfare BECAUSE you have kids and are lazy, and don't want the free money to stop coming in so you yourself can keep being lazy, because you probably do drugs!!! Are you F-ing kidding me!!??!!.. and you don't have to do a damn thing for it! Of course you don't agree with it.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Saoirse

    First off: the max you can get from welfare is not $303. Here in the state of Washington as well as California, you can get $575 max for cash aid and for a family of 3 with no jobs for either parent can get up to $530 for food stamps alone. People will sell their foodstamps for drugs and the cash aid you can just take right out of the bank and use it for whatever you please. I could care less about peoples rights to illegal drugs. Really who cares. We don't complain when we take drug test for a regular job. boohoohoo you can't smoke weed anymore. I'm laughing at you right now. My advice is...if you don't like the rule then get off welfare and make your OWN money and then smoke whatever the hell you want. High five for the state of florida and I hope other states follow.

    June 8, 2011 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  12. RedRabbit

    I think it's a great thing! Yes all other Gov. income like SSI, Medicad(which falls under Welfare), etc. should be tested too! This is not stereotyping anyone. This is trying to get people off of Welfare that is using it for drug & alcohol money. Make the ones who are abusing the system get off their a**es and get a job. I don't know how many people I see & know that are on welfare have nice NEW cars, go and get their hair and nails done every day, have name brand clothes,etc and they don't work. It's time for people to take some responsibility for themselves and the kids they bring into this world. GET OFF YOUR A** AND GET A JOB!!

    June 8, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse |
  13. Teresa

    FINALLY! I myself was on welfare many years ago and would never have had a problem getting drug tested. I also lived in Section 8 housing which is normally filled with welfare recipients whether they were only getting food stamps or both food stamps and tanf. I've gotta tell you, just about EVERYONE I have encountered getting public assistance was on drug...the most common was marijuana and cocaine and on top of that they were always buying ciggarettes and alcohol. Most bought mass amount of junk food and sodas over healthy stuff and amazingly always had enormous cookouts where they supplied the food (bought with food stamps). I gave a neighbor a ride to the store once when I had to purchase groceries for my family where she whispered to me in the checkout line if she could pay for my groceries with her Link card (same as food stamps) and I give her my money so she can pay for her make up and other crap she bought for herself. i was so insulted when she asked that! I personally only received food stamps and tanf for a total of 2 months when I was 19 and only qualified for state assistance housing at that time. The subsidized housing I lived in for that year did random inspections in my apartment looking in random drawers in such just to see what we could have that is illegal, if more people were living there than who's on the lease etc...I never had an issue because I never did anything wrong! It was hurtful to me to have endure that but you know what, I need the housing, I appreciated the roof over me and my kids head and if I didn't like it than I could have moved out! Just like those who are against the drug test...then don't apply for it! These same people who live off of government assistance month after month get their nails done (on a routine basis which is costly), constantly get their hair done, shop for better clothes than I can afford, go to bars, clubs, vacations, have designer purses (knock off's are also pretty pricy), have amazing televisions, nice cars etc...How poor are they really if they can afford these things? It sad that some people aren't in that category and really do need it and appreciate it but way too many people do not need it and abuse it. Those who are against this are probably the ones who will pop up positive on the drug test. And they state that the recipient is responsible to pay for the test and if they are positive then no benefits and if they are negative then they get their money back and are given the benefits. What is the big deal with doing this? I get drug tested at my job to get hired and randomly get tested all the time. Getting gov't assistance is a privilege and is taxpayer money. For those who say it's violating civil rights or humiliating them are dumb. Then DON'T apply for it. It's already embarrassing for those who need it to be sitting in that waiting room as it is. YES WIC and other services should be drug tested too! Retired personnel, injured military, etc...should not have to be drug tested as another user mentioned (not in exact words) but is correct in what they said.
    THIS SHOULD BE A REQUIREMENT THROUGHOUT ALL THE UNITED STATES! PLUS, There should be random drug tests where they can get called in at any time for a drug test while they are receiving any benefits provided by us taxpayers.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. bo peep

    I support this 100%!
    To the people who think its inappropriate...
    Most jobs require drug testing. Welfare is meant to be temporary..if someone on welfare is doing drugs they will have a hard time getting a job because they can't pass a drug test for employment..so they're just going to keep collecting those government checks.
    It's a cycle.
    We as a country are broke. We need to make drastic changes.
    And getting a tax stimulus check is far different than collecting a monthly check.moronic comparison.
    And we're worried we're going to offend them?? Make them feel badly? Wow...if you are in need and it's just standard procedure..too bad...nothing to feel badly about. It does not violate anyone's rights!


    June 8, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
    • BuckeyeGrl

      This is a start....however I believe that the test should happen not only to get it, but randomly as well since pills can be out of the system in 3 days or less.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel Clark

      FINALLY!!!!! Too many people abuse the welfare system and I don't think it should stop at drug testing. I don't think people on welfare should be able to have things like cable TV and other luxuries. I don't have cable TV, I live on a budget and I get by just fine. I know too many people on welfare who don't need it. I know someone on food stamps who just sold there corvette to turn around and buy a couple of ATVs and we support this? We have no money for schools and we all wonder why? Don't get me wrong, I deeply believe there are people in this world who need welfare, but there are many who need to grow up and set a budget! So I'm glad it's starting with drugs. Not everyone on welfare uses them, but this will hopefully weed out those who do.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Darwin McKinney

      This is the FIRST Zpositive move we have seen from any official or state in the right direction of trimming the slag off the money pot. This is a grand move......the real move is random testing on CURRENT recepients...with on chance of return to the system if tested positive.

      I would vote for Scott for President based on this ONE initiative!! Best move in many years by anyone......including Mr"what America needs is change"........I hope you are happy with his change.....cause that is all that is left in our pocket!

      June 8, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • RWC

      Wait a minute, let me get this straight, the government is giving you money for FREE and you have the audacity to complain about the terms and conditions? Again, FREE MONEY!!!! Am I even awake right now? I can't decide wether I want to take this one seriously or give my key board more forehead.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • RWC

      Excuse me, I was referring to the people complaining, not this individual who posted the comment.

      June 8, 2011 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Betsy

      They should test for drugs under ANY and ALL STATE & FEDERAL HELP PERIOD!!!!!!!!! NO ONE SHOULD USING SHOULD GET FOOD STAMPS OR HOUSING!!!! Then just maybe they may be able to help the one's that truly need the help!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Betsy

      All Recipients present, past and future should be tested!!!!

      June 8, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. BlackSoda

    I have to take a blood test for my job. The money I earn goes to help people through welfare. Why should I be required to take a blood test in order to get a job/income but not the others. The goal is to get people working and off of welfare. How can people get and hold jobs if they have a drug abuse issue. This is something that can be treated so they to can be proud of helping others who are in short term need of financial help. I happily help people out with the money I earn so long as the funds are used for food, shelter, clothing, transportation. I do not believe my earnings should be for drugs, alcohol and tattoos. Way to go Florida on finding a way to take care of one of the three, drugs! By the way, most of those who feel this is unfair are ones who would not have access to funds as they would test positive.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
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