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. Barbara

    Good for you, Governor Scott! As a former caseworker I have said this should have happened years ago. I would LOVE to see it come to Michigan!

    June 8, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      I would also welcome him in Maryland!!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
  2. Name*rob

    It figures that the ACLU would get involved in this. The government is giving these people free money. There should be no problems asking them to pee in a cup to prove they "deserve" it!

    June 8, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Barb

    Thank God – ACLU should stay out of it. I have to be drug tested to work....so yes...they need to be drug tested to collect MY tax money. I wish the Federal government would look into this......that would really help with the federal debt!!

    June 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Suzanne

    PUH-LEASE!!! Who are we really targeting here? The majority of drug abusers abuse alcohol and prescription pills. Both LEGAL. And both incredibly harmful. Let's get down to some cold hard facts here. HEROIN – if you directly inject into your veins is gone faster than any other method of use. 24 hours. Crack, SAME. Alcohol – even less time. Prescription pills, well, if you're applying for welfare – just snort it, it'll be out of your system way faster than swallowing – if you can find a way to inject it, hey, better for you. I wonder how many deaths will be caused by these addicts finding ways to rid their bodies faster of the detectable amounts? How many children will this hurt? How much more money will it cost to put these children in foster care? Cause you know what? Marijuana is about 30 days. Least harmful of ALL, but this is obviously who we are targeting. Coincidence that on May 13th it was announced what a huge failure the war on drugs is, and the recommendation to not only decriminalize if not legalize marijuana (and the recommendation to experiment decriminalizing even harder drugs) was made? I think not. What is really needed is education..... oh, and for the whole welfare system to be checked hard-core. Drug testing is not the way. How about making welfare recipients......oh, I don't know..... WORK? Pick up trash on our highways – 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Show up sober, or don't get a check? Then, if you show up high as a kite, THEN, drug test – and deny future monies. Get these people out and feeling like they are part of the workforce, and the transition would so much easier. Not to mention, these young children whose parents are on welfare will actually see an example of a WORKING adult. Set the bar so our children know that you can't escape WORK PERIOD.

    June 8, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda T.

      No they don't dearie. The majority of welfare bums buy, sell, and DO illegal contraband every single day.
      Too bad they ALL didn't get busted.
      Well maybe now they not only will get busted, their going to have to find a job like the rest of us!

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

      You have a good point Suzanne.....but I really don't think that if people are into drugs that bad that they will plan out to make sure they don't shoot up a couple days before they go in. I doubt that people will die either because they are trying to get the drugs out of their system faster. If for some reason their drug abuse and need for assistance is that bad then they shouldn't have their kids in the first place, I am sure that they will end up in foster care eventually whether their parents are alive or not.

      2nd of all they aren't going to pay people $8/ hr to clean up trash on the side of the road plus give them benefits too when the over crowded jail population does it for like $1/ hr. I think for whatever reason they fail, even if it is because of marijuana they should still be using that time or money they used to get the pot to buy their food instead. If pot isn't addicting like everyone says then they can stop buying and smoking it, if I am over weight and spend all of my money on fast food and don't have any left to spend on food for home should the government then give me money for food at home because I don't control where I spend my money??? Just something to think about

      June 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Name*Kit

    This is the stupidest waste of money by the government . It enhances nobodies life but the profiteers. Anyone can pass a drug test , there are several methods. Use the money to enrich our children's lives.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul in NJ

      What the hell is a "profiteer"? And which school system is teaching you that profits are evil? Taxpaying minds want to know!

      June 8, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Just Saying

    I believe its a step in the right direction. They could also do random drug testing on recipients, while they are receiving assistance. Having them do community service 25-30 hrs a week would be good to implement. That way they are giving and not just receiving.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Linda T.

    It's about dam time!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jk

    Boy....how stupid!!! Most drugs are bought and paid for by them wealthy...get a clue!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Linda T.

    It's about dam time!!!
    This should've been done a long time ago.
    Let's get this going from state to state, and clean up America!
    To think we all pay taxes to let these welfare bums go on staying home to get high on drugs. They can't afford anything else can they???

    June 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Linda T.


    June 8, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paul in NJ

    The ACLU is blowing smoke – no pun intended – and they know it. Courts have consistently upheld laws that attach strings to parties who take taxpayer money. Now they're going to waste taxpayer money on a suit which will lose.

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

    Ummm....well if my employer can demand me to take a drug test, to continue to work, I would think, in order to receive free money (no disrespect, I have been on welfare before), the government should have the right to give a drug test.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Joan

    It really is about time...I would help anyone in need,but we need guidelines!!! I do not feel taking a drug test is asking much of anyone. Most employers require drug testing before they will hire and they should. Many people from bus drivers to plant employees are randomly drug tested throughout employment and they should be. Welfare has become a way of life for many.,rather than temporary assistance...It is sad to say they learn how to work the system. I am sure we have all seen it in our own areas...I know I have here in New York state!!!!!!

    June 8, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Meggan

    If the ACLU wants to disprove the stereotype that all welfare recipients are drug addicts, let the state implement the law and we'll see how many actually do use drugs. If the ACLU is right then the state will have just wasted money on drug tests and if not then they won't be able to say anything else about it.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy BIG C,

      The state wont have wasted any money but the taxpayers money, this is an epic fail. Good job.

      June 9, 2011 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • destable

      As a Florida taxpayer, I agree. My money is being used for this, I want to ensure someone is not using it to buy drugs, which is clearly not the point of welfare. If a little bit of money has to be used to make sure people are doing what they are supposed to, that is fine by me.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. karen

    I say yeah for florida!! I have to take a drug test to get paid, so why not everyone. Now if everyone would get out and vote for congress to live like the rest of us..... "pass no law that does not apply to every citizen!!" that includes social security benefits, retirement etc!!!! I thought politicians were to run for the benefit of the people...NOT themselves.

    June 8, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie In Texas

      Karen... puh-lease!! Disability? SS recipients? Why should someone on Disability or Social Security/Retirement be drug tested? These are not federal assisted funds. These are funds based on the employment you worked! Not free money from the government! And most people, myself included, who are on SS Disability, are on prescription drugs, thus the reason for being on disability. My disability payments are based on my work history and the money I PAID into Social Security. The welfare program is free FEDERAL dollars paid for by the American Taxpayer – someone who works and pays a portion of their paycheck lto isted under FEDERAL TAXES. Then the government pays to each state, funds to cover PUBLIC WELFARE assisted programs. These are our TAX Dollars. I say it's about time! And the ACLU can cry all they want, if you're not guilty of using illegal drugs while getting FEDERAL FUNDS, no fowl. If you want to work a job and live your life using illegal drugs... I could care less. That is your business. While I don't approve of it, it is your business. However, it is my business where my tax dollars go. And yes, I still pay taxes on my annual income tax return, based on the income my spouse and myself earn, which means my disability dollars still pays taxes. I am of the opinion that every person who applies for, and receives, federally assisted program dollars, should pass a random drug test, as most if not all companies require an employee to take. GO FLORIDA!! Then I hope it spreads to TEXAS!

      June 9, 2011 at 3:15 am | Report abuse |
    • June

      @Debbie re: Karen's reference is to the special benefits/retirement program for Congress (iow, they aren't required to pay into a failing social security system like the rest of us)... http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30631.pdf

      June 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
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