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. Martin

    To get a job we are drug tested, I bet even the ACLU Drug test their employees. So why not drug test people on public assistance! And, subtract the cost of the test from the money they are going to receive. If they don’t like that then they should go out and get a job!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. edwardsallen

    I agree with this, I think every state should do it. It would also save us and the state money.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. Lindsey

    I am not against helping those who face an unexpected financial crisis that was not of their own making. My family needed help briefly when I was young and my dad, who still today at 67 is the hardest worker I know, was injured and my mom too a night janitorial job to try to make ends meet. You can bet, however, that not one luxury item (much less illegal items) were purchased. My mom would have been embarrassed to be drug tested to get the help, but both she and my dad would have DONE it to feed the kids. I am a teacher, and I was tested to get my job. I wish we were randomly tested to KEEP our jobs, too. I really believe if government handouts weren't so readily available, teen pregnancy rates and abuse of the system would go down.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:09 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chrazzy in Canada

    RIGHT ON FLORIDA GOVERNMENT and RICK SCOTT! This is Outstanding... I Love it! It's about time for people on welfare to be accountable. I sincerely hope our Government takes a good lesson from the Florida. You Go Guys & Gals.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  5. poopty peupty pants

    WHAT!!! when can the other 49 pick this up!!!!! this is the best news i have heard in a long time....

    June 8, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  6. Keli

    I think this is a great bill and its not that everyone feels that all welfare people are on drugs and the ones that are not, like myself we have nothing to worry about but it is not fair for those one who are to benifit from the help from others.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. emmy Lou

    This is great, I wish Indiana would do the same thing, And then maybe the Federal Gov. will do away with the earned income credit.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nichole

    I have been a single mom struggling to work, go to school, take care of my kids and when I truly needed it the system helped me care for my children. While I never received welfare and worked hard to not need it, I did require use of the medical coupons for several years. I would have been willing at any time to take a random drug test, why not, it was worth it for my children and I to be insured. I think this is a great idea, my only concern is what happens to the children when their drug addicted parents come in, get tested, are positive, and are now denied any money at all? I have little confidence in CPS, I certainly hope that they don't just leave those children in a house with someone who is now in desperate withdrawals.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      Nichole, I wondered the same thing. I fully agree and support this legislation and even think it should be expanded to those receiving disability benefits but I again wonder what about the children? These emergency and temporary funds were supposed to support families and children in times of need...is there anyway for these children to receive the food, clothing, medical supplies etc. without handing money to their parents? While this is a wonderful solution to a major problem there are still aspects that need to be addressed.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • marcie

      If the parents have drug issues, chances are there are other problems in the household as well...and more than likely, the children aren't reaping the benefits of the govt assistance. If the parents fail a drug test for welfare, I would imagine they would be unfit to even be parents. That's a whole other issue that would need to be taken into consideration.

      June 8, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  9. NoOh

    This is great! All we needed was for one state to start the waterfall! Hopefully other follow suit. It is not racist to ask for a drug test, and if you aren't doing drugs, then you have nothing to worry about. Every one that argues with this is either on welfare using drugs, or is very uneducated and doesn't care that we are helping lazy druggies live off the system. Welfare is a means to get a job and help people with money problems. Help should mean temporary. Helping isn't an income every month for the rest of your life. I know too many people who screw with the system, and this is the start. Next Stop: Start drug testing for unemployment!

    June 8, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Angel

    It's about time!! This should have always been a stipulation!!! And I also think that the drug tests should be random and often to continue their assistance. This will free up a LOT of money... Its IS NOT a stereotype and if most of them weren't on drugs, there would be nothing for them to worry about would there??? But that is not the case, It's bad enough they have no money for food for their kids but they seem to drum up cigarette money somehow!!

    June 8, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dorie

    I have to be ready for random drug testing for my job. So what's the big deal? If you, the welfare bum, don't want to be drug tested to get FREE MONEY, then go get a job. Oh, I forgot, you think you are better than minimum wage, so you want to stay on welfare because a job doen't pay as much. HMMMM, lets see, you quit school, so you don't have a HS diploma, you didn't go to college or trade school, WHAT IN TARNATION DO YOU EXPECT?! Get up off your lazy back side and do what the rest of us working stiffs have done and do, either be satisfied with what you can get for being a drop out, or go back to school. It's that simple. Otherwise, yeah, put up with us telling you what to do, 'cause "your money" isn't YOUR MONEY! IT"S MY MONEY! It's my tax dollars that's suporting your sorry but! So, stop your dern cryin' and take your drug test just like those of us who work for a living, and take the consequenses. If you don't want to be drug tested, then get off welfare, and go into business of your own. Either way, it's a win win situation for us tax payers who've supported your lazy buts all these years/generations, if you're denied welfare because of a pos drug test, I don't have to pay, if you go to work, I don't have to pay, and if you become self employed, I don't have to pay for your sorry but to sit at home all day, making noise so us Night shift workers have a hard time getting some sleep, and party all night keeping the day shift workers up all night.

    Have you ever noticed... Talking to fellow people who like this idea of drug testing welfare bums, but, did you ever notice that the folks who cry the most against drug testing such as this, are the biggest drug users?! I have to laugh, they say it's a crime against their rights. Heck, they relenquished all their rights when they signed up for welfare. Should also go back to the way it used to be in the 60's, when welfare recipiants got the "welfare" clothes, and such, rather than the designer stuff today. What was wrong with the welfare clothes back then? The winter coats were warm, not very stylish, but functional. The boots kept the kids feet warm and dry. The food was nutritious. The basic needs were met, and if you didn't like it, well, tough. You do have the choice of not begging for help and have every right to not take the money, clothes, or food.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • vanesa

      DEN THERE AND DON that when to school for 12 year just like everyone else do and 2 and half of year trade school for LPN and when the resession hit and I had to relies on after I lost my job and I Know people that is on it Not on drug and its another fact drugs testes is BS what you want to do with your body is your business period. I pay my tax to if help folks live alittle Im willing to help and NO I dont use Drugs and keep going head letting the government tell you how to think,speak,look, act against poor poeple mid class folk liberty and just because u use drugs dont mean u dont have a job I know folk that use drugs and how government JOBS.

      June 8, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • OKLAHOMAN

      exactly what you said 🙂

      June 9, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Amber

    I think the problem starts with the fact that these "adults" have a choice of what to buy when it comes to food and such at the store with these programs. I have been behind people so many times in the grocery store who are buying better and more food than me (frozen pizza, cookies, snack cakes, etc) and they pay with food stamps! Take away food stamps and create a delivery system and/or a store for only those people who need assistant. Provide only the things they need: meat, potatoes, rice, veggies, and fruits. That's it! NO luxury items! Money is wasted on things that are temporary. You buy a frozen pizza for no less that $6 that will last you one night when you can get a bag of rice to last you several weeks if not longer for less than $3!! I previously worked in an Emergency Room and saw so many people coming in carrying expensive purses and cell phones with nice cloths and getting out of nice cars only to had me a Medicaid card! This is abuse! I am all for helping people that truly need help, but those who take advantage of the system need to be taken off of it!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Betsy

    Way to go!!!!! Can you now talk to Oklahoma about doing the same thing? LOL You should also drug test for any Public Housing & Section 8 Programs!!! And when people say you are taking from their kids IT'S A LIE!!!! YOUR ONLY TAKING FROM THE DOPE MAN!!!! hehehehe DOPE MAN HAS TO NOW GET A REAL JOB TO BUY HIS FOOD!!!!! POOR DOPE MAN!!! NOT LMBO!!!!!!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cindy

    Want public assistance? You should absolutely have to take a drug test prior to picking up every check AND, you should be a citizen. Want to be a citizen? You should be required to both pass a HS Equal. test and speak English. I'm all for helping the needy, just not the lazy & crooked.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jennifer

      I absolutely agree. I'm sick of people abusing the system!

      June 8, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      I totally agree. I was a traveling nurse for 8 years and had to have a drug test every 3 months. If I have to then every one collecting my tax dollars should have one each time they pick up a check. Are we stereotyping? NO we are not. Just making them accountable for the money they get for doing nothing except breathe. I am not talking about those down on their luck, just the womb to tomb collectors.

      June 8, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Good For you Cindy.... I couldn't have spoke it better.

      June 9, 2011 at 3:17 am | Report abuse |
    • OKLAHOMAN

      I agree!!!

      June 9, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. singlemomshares

    I am SO relieved that this is finally happening. I whole heartedly agree that taxpayers should not support the people who CHOOSE to do nothing or do drugs. It's about time!!

    June 8, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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