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. Pam

    I worked in die casting as a Quality Auditor, I got a splinter in my finger and had to go to the nurse to get something to take it out. I had to SIT in that office until they sent someone to the plant to drug test me over a SPLINTER in my finger!! If I can deal with that, welfare people can deal with drug testing too.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • destable

      Exactly. This closes the loophole for people who don't want to work because they want to do drugs. Now they can't live off the state, and can't hold a job that mandates drug testing, so they either get a job, stop using drugs, or starve. There are plenty of free programs to help those with drug addictions, so there really is no excuse.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. jay

    It's kinda like immigration in Arizona. The only people complaining are those that will lose there free ride. welfare was supposed to be a hand up not a hand out!

    June 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Debbie In Texas


      June 9, 2011 at 3:19 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dani

    I am so glad that someone is finally doing something about this major issue. While I have to take a drug test for my job, then so should those who want my tax dollars. I am all for personal accountability as well. But I think more needs to be done then just drug testing. I think that case managers should seriously take a look at what those using welfare are spending their money on. They need to account for every penny they get, i.e. phone bill, cable bill, electric bill, water bill, trash bill. If they buy clothes they must show receipts for these expenses. I say this because I knew someone who actually on welfare who had every gadget on their home telephone, call waiting, call forwarding, caller ID, you get the picture. When you are on welfare you need a basic phone line. This person had cable with all the premium movie channels. When you are on welfare, you don't need cable. Your local channels should suffice. This person had a cell phone to boot. You get the basic home phone. You are on welfare you don't need a cellphone. This person smoked cigs too, which I know is perfectly legal, but really my tax dollars are going to pay for your nicotine habit. This person used to wear Hollister and Abercrombie...Glad my tax dollars could pay for you to live better then me as a single parent working two jobs to make ends meat. Make them account for where each and every penny they get is going. That is true accountability. Those who really need the help will not complain, those that abuse will. Go Governor Scott, I can only hope that other states will follow your lead.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |

      ditto Dani, although not sure how it would ever happen. It digusts me to see mothers smoking with dirty children running around with no shoes.

      June 9, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Niqua

    So what happens to the people who have worked for 20+ years and end up disabled. Collect Social Security Disability (that they paid into), and get some assistance from DHHS. If they live in a state that has a Medical Marijuana Law, get their "medicine" from a dispensary and use it according to their doctor. They will test positive... What happens then??? There are a lot of people who are in this category...

    June 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • destable

      this article is about the law in Florida. Medical marijuana is not legal in Florida. Thanks for playing.

      June 9, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Dani

      I see what you are saying, but how many times are people even abusing the medical system to get a medical marijuana card. People can go to a doctor and say I have a toothache, I have headaches, I have cronic stomach aches, I have never seen so many people between the ages of 18-26 that have health issues that require such a license in the first place. Makes you wonder if all of society is just going to hell in a hand basket. If you have become disabled paid into the system then by all means you should be able to get help, but and here's the catch, you have to provide a medical marijuana card, you have to have a signed affidavit from a legitamate doctor, maybe one who works for the county, state, federal government that says you need the medical marijuana to get your financial help, not just any doctor looking for a kick back.

      June 9, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sonja

    Way to go Florida! The ACLU's cry doesn't make any sense. This drug testing would reaffirm that those on welfare are NOT using drugs. I would think that anyone who receives welfare who does not abuse drugs would be grateful for the test- it is weeding out the drug abusers that are misusing their aid. I hope other states follow this law!

    June 8, 2011 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • chiwuike

      I'm not sure how me getting drug tested would make me feel better. I'm still getting aid, but now I'm being treated like some potential criminal.

      Why should we stop drug users from getting federal assistance? Why them and not alcoholics? Or speeders? Or people who are overweight? Why should any group of people I don't like get federal assistance?

      June 9, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  6. limpwrist

    Rick Scott has a mob associate in his leadership coalition. Meet Joe Ardolina of American Truck Sales. He's a former vice president in the now defunct H&W Refuse Service whose president was Anthony Carione, fingered by law enforcement along with his brother Frank Carione, as then active figures in the underworld. Another brother, Joseph Carione, plead guilty to defrauding the government as a co-defendant in a case that involved Colombo crime boss Andrew Russo. bit.ly/edERUe

    June 9, 2011 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. clr

    It's about time. I've lived in lower class neighborhoods and some welfare recipients are drug uses who will trade their welfare funds for drugs. If you think not go live in the hood for a couple years and come back and talk to me. This will just help the children in the long run. Anyone who thinks other wise is likely one of the candidates that should be check first. Theirs is nothing wrong with checking to make sure the funds are going to the correct place not Mexican cartels. A+ on this policy.
    Don't even try to turn this into a race issue, it's not since all races live off welfare and all races have their share of drug abusers and non abusers.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  8. pro-to-this

    Stereotypes, my a$$... im a working person who has to be drug tested for work.. so if i gotta be drug tested so i can pay taxes for your welfare, it's just fair for the recipients to be drug tested. plus, you don't have nothing worry about if you ain't got nothing in your system.

    June 9, 2011 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  9. Kelly

    hat all welfare recipients are a bunch of drug abusers," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida." Of course not all of them, but don't ignore the truth that most of them are! I lived in the projects while I obtained my first degree and I witnessed a great majority of them sitting around smoking and selling marijuana all day. I look back now, and even with a master's a lot of them are living better lives financially than I am. They have to sell it to smoke it. You can't support a habit like that off a measly $300 a month (even with cheap rent and foodstamps). My only concern about this...they know how to pass drug tests, so ultimately, these tests are going to be a waste of taxpayers money. I'm still glad they are making an effort to improve the system.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  10. Todd

    i had to get drug tested to be hired on at work and get put into a random drug test pool. if they are getting tax dollars, the least they can do is be drug tested.

    June 9, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    I have to get a drug test to work, why don't they need a drug test to get free money?

    June 9, 2011 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  12. Janelle C

    I don't think this is about stereotypes at all. I am required to pass a drug test for employment. If the same logic tge ACLU is using is applied, does this mean that everyone in my profession is a drug addict? The obvious answer is no. If a person needs welfare, use it... Don't abuse it. Kudos to Florida. They are being responsible and holding people accountable.

    June 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Interested in Illinois

    I didn't read all of the comments so maybe this was already posted...what about the folks already receiving cash welfare? Is it just new applicants or is there a plan to deal with users who have been milking the system for some time?

    June 9, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lindsey

    Are you kidding me? Why does the ACLU have to get involved with every single decision that actually holds people accountable to a higher standard? Simple equation: "I want to work =I must have drug test to be employed" Another simple equation: "I want free money = I must have a drug test to receive the free money (just to make sure that I'm not blowing the money on drugs)." When will people get a clue?

    June 9, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shelly

    Race is not the issue, it's accountability for your actions. Welfare is intended for children. If you aren't willing to do a drug test for the benefit of your children then your obviously using drugs and shouldn't be receiving free drug money.

    June 9, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kathy Dutton

      It should be about the cost of testing. Unemployment is rising in florida. Is the number of Floridians receiving welfare rising? His plan suggest that a person passing the test will be re-embursed for the cost of the test. How much is that going to cost the tax payers? The fact is that there are more people not using welfare to fund a drug habit. He should have given the tax payers more information supporting this bill. How does this help with the double digit unemployment in this state? A good education and a job is a better investment and helps keep people off welfare. This bill only addresses who is not going to receive the benefit as opposed to how are we going to keep the rising number of unemployed people from needing welfare in the future and I am assuming that most of those people are not drug users. They are teachers, janitors, etc.

      June 10, 2011 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
    • ddddon

      I also know of several people who live together, have kids, but will not marry so that the woman can collect on her and the children. The men also have good paying jobs!!! Makes me furious!

      June 10, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
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