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. Shane

    Bravo for Florida! Glad to see a state step up and start doing something. Welfare was never intended to be a career choice so it is about time to thin the herd. It appears the only unethical part may be the governor's ties to testing, but I don't feel asking someone to submit to a drug test is. Drinking is also a matter of ones own business, but illegal if you drive so the message is clear...if you want to be a dirtbag drug addict get a job!

    July 19, 2011 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Shasta

    I completley agree with this! Yay Florida! Now the rest of the country just needs to follow suit!

    July 19, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      I agree with this Bill 100% if all the states mandated drug testing we would have less people on TANF and more people working because the ones abusing that are actually using the drugs would have to quit or find a job and if they quit they would be able to find a decent job that pays well because they can pass the test. I am sure the only recipeints fight are the users whats there to hide if you are clean? This should be done with unemployment as well because if you are doing drugs you options are limited finding employment, so yes i do agree with it and feel it needs to be expanding and looked more into. Thank You

      July 20, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Monica Kincaid

      They should do it randomly to all adults especially for health care professionals, child care personnel and law enforcement. That won't happen though because people naively assume that only people on welfare are addicts.

      July 21, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DsJ

    Why should workers applying for a job be required to take a drug test but welfare applicants not? Go away ACLU!! This is the best decision and I hope all states follow this requirement.

    July 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ricki

      Couldn't have said it better myself. I had to be clean to get my job and stay clean to keep it. If I'm pulling in an EARNED income without drugs, why shouldn't their FREE income involve a little effort on their part.

      July 20, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • stop-confusion

      That's the point. ACLU is trying to stop the testing when applying for a job

      July 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bernie

    Bravo and hope all wil folow please

    July 19, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Linda

    BRAVO!!!! I hope every state follows suit!! This is one of the fairest things I have ever seen! I have had to submit to drug tests to keep my job so I can pay for all those who receive assistance. I am not against the assistance – many are in need at times – but if this is your career/lifestyle, then you should be subject to the same expectations the working class are subject to. If you refuse, we refuse to help you!!!!! The ACLU needs to leave it alone and stop defending those who don't deserve being defended. They are only enablers for the lazy who don't want to take care of themselves. I have never heard of a single case where I cheered for the assistance of the ACLU – usually just the opposite. We need to take their "threat" out of the equation!!!!

    July 20, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      I know, right? It's about time someone made a stand on this. I have a couple of low-life family members that mooch off of our government here on disability, something most of us probably don't need. Look at those people who are doing extreme things like mountain climbing or surfing or whatever, and some of those people are missing LIMBS....if you know what I mean! Anything is possible here if you put your mind and bravery to work. And there are mentally retarded people who are doing well too, so there isn't an excuse for anyone to remark they are incapable. God makes things possible!

      July 22, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Linda

    Yea, for Florida.. I truly believe that all states should do the same thing.. Maybe then, we wouldn't be in the shape that we're in now.. Amen..

    July 20, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. shawn

    Is there a stereotype that in this country that the working class are a bunch of drug abusers? because in order for me to get a paycheck as with MILLIONS of others we have to be subject to drug testing to get a job and then random tests as employees! I also think congress and anyone requesting government grants should be subject also disability etc...every government program that money comes out of my paycheck and goes to someone else they should be
    drug tested

    July 20, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jim

    I am required to pass a test to make the money they take from me and give to them, they should have to take the test to get MY MONEY.

    July 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Valerie

      Aww, poor you. Does this mean you're one of the drug abusers then? Sorry you disagree with something that actually helps taxpayers out, and you also talk dirt about getting money. Wake up, shorty....there are people out there who don't have a job and you should be HAPPY!

      July 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gvas

    This is a good thing. Welfare is an outdated system supporting laziness. I have family members on welfare that drive nicer cars than I do and I have a good job, good income and am drug free. No one, aside from veterens of wars, deserve to sit on the sidelines and watch other go to work to support them. Wake up people. This is common sense. Work for what you get. Everyone else has to.

    July 21, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. Darlene

    Agreed. Workers pass a drug test or lost their jobs. What are people so afraid of? They won't pass? Then they don't get the money either. ACLU get a life! So what if they are "profiled". If they can't pass then we, the people supporting them, are "firing' them!!! 🙂

    July 22, 2011 at 1:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. Rick

    I have an idea...lets get rid of the ACLU. Get real people, get of the stereotype soapbox. If they are not guilty of anything, in this case abusing drugs, they have nothing to worry about. It may take awhile to see the end result but it seems to me that eventually the millions taxpayers spend annually in an attempt to get these deadbeats off drugs will go down if there is some incentive for them to do it on there own. Self help and accountability. What a concept.

    July 22, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick

    Here is another thought...Living in a very rural section of Maine the root cause of a significant part of our social ills is an out of control problem with drug and alcohol abuse. If not for these particular issues local law enforcement would be all but out of a job. In a majority of cases a direct link can be made between the criminal element and the welfare roles. Oh crap, there I go stereotyping again. Anyway if people are out of work, i.e. no income, but they are continually getting arrested for drug and alcohol related crimes where is the money to fund the habits coming from? Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out. There comes a time when someone has to say enough is enough. Way to go Florida. I hope Governor Lepage (Maine) is taking notes.

    July 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeanne

    This is something we need very much. I live in a city full of welfare receipients. Woman with children and no father around. We need something to wake up these folks. Maybe they will get on birth control.

    July 23, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joy

    I totally agree and think people should be tested for drugs. I get state assistance and I work. How is it fair that those who work are more often than not subjected to drug testing before being accepted into a job, but you can free food and party like it's 1999? The only thing they take into consideration when applying for assistance is your income vs expenses. If you don't have a job or a source of income most of the time you can get food benefits within 7 days! The government can't exactly keep track if you're getting money under the table even though you're supposed to report it... who says people aren't using that money for drugs? Same thing with people with high end paying jobs.... Just because you do or don't need assistance from the government doesn't mean you're NOT doing drugs. Drug testing should be required for ALL paying jobs, including getting assistance!!!

    July 23, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. ddd1301

    What a great thing. My employer requires a drug test for all new employees. This is required for some of our client contracts.

    July 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
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