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. Laura

    If my 80 year old father-in-law had too be part of a drug testing consortium because he held a commercial drivers license and delivered tractors....then the people who seek out assistance should have to as well. It's pretty simple people, we need to stop enabling this country and weed out the true deadbeats! We all know the system is being abused and this is a step in the right direction to begin to get things on track.

    July 23, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Gallimaufry

    give me a break...all Ironworkers are required to take drug tests before they begin employment and can be retested anytime...way to go Florida

    July 23, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joy

    Here's an even better idea. How about we get rid of the program altogether! Maybe they can issue these families some type of card where money can be loaded on it, and they can only use it on certain items. Kind of like a WIC card, but perhaps they could use the money to pay utility bills, rent, gas, diapers? I suppose it would take some work to establish some type of agreement with these companies, but at least they could ensure the money would be spent on things that families need. Here in MI on our food cards you can't buy alcohol so it makes perfect sense 🙂

    July 23, 2011 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Vicki

      Joy, you have hit the nail on the head. This would be the perfect way to handle this. I am tired of paying for people who are cheating so they can help (?:(

      July 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ron

      sounds good to me but to be fair lets stop all companies from drug testing, just think Pilots, police, judges, all will not have to take a test yea! life will be so much safer...

      August 6, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Diann

    Since I am an honest person to begin with, in 1998 I took a drug test, of which I really did not want to do. I did land a job of which I still work today. I did this to be hired. So, why not have this in place as a national process for welfare reciptents ?
    Work= money
    No work= money If I have to.....so why shouldn't they have to???? Enough said !!!!!!

    July 26, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Adam Smith

    Why don't we just hide welfare checks under work boots? That'll save some money!

    July 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jessica aucoin

    I so agree with the drug testing! Every state should do drug testing on everyone on welfare! I'm on it from 2 bad auto accidents n 7 surgery later, n they want to do another back n neck surgery, I do not take all them drugs. I go to PHYSICAL THERAPISTS! NO NARCOTICS!!!! THANKS! IT'S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE RECOGNIZED THIS PROBLEM!

    July 29, 2011 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. Christine

    This is NO STEROTYPE! I have just completed Nursing school and have had to complete 3 drug test and another one for the job I am appllying. So let me get this straight I have to be drug free to work so my tax dollars can go support people on welfare yet they do not have to be drug free to get the BENEFITS of what we are giving them? Sorry no sterotype! This is something that should have been done a long time ago! No person should receive any kind of help if they are strung out on drugs. We are going to save a whole lot of $$. Now a lawsuit because its discrimination blah blah well why dont we sue them for robbery because that is what they have been doing to the system!

    July 29, 2011 at 9:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Do any of you lock step conservatives find it alarming that Rick Scott was the co-founder of Solantic, a chain of clinics that offer drug screening and that he stands to profit directly from this policy or do you just consider this unethical biil to be a good business practice. Although he has "divested", his shares went into a trust in his wife's name. Oh, and this is the same Rick Scott who's company bilked taxpayers (which I imagine includes all of YOU) out of BILLIONS of dollars. It was the LARGEST FRAUD SETTLEMENT CASE IN US HISTORY. He was good enough to resign after the company was charged with 14 felonies. This is quite the hero that ya'll are putting on a pedastal. His fraud certainly helped to DIRECTLY take mony from the US coffers to fill is pockets and pile on more US debt. Bravo Governor, bravo!

    July 29, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      With all the evidence of wrong doing in this governors past, this says a lot about the voters in the state of Florida ! REALLY !!!? I'm sure someone had to vote him in the office. Talk about people wearing blindfolds.... "WHERE DO THAT THAT AT !!!!? OH YEAH, THE STATE OF FLORIDA !"

      August 2, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amanda

      You can turn it around and blame the person in charge and bring up his past, but the reality is this. If you do illegal things you should'nt be able to get help. And just an FYI I dont think yuo can read, cause he is not making any money from the government if you read the article youd see that the person applying has to pay for there own drug tests.

      August 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tdoodle77

      First of all, this man was voted in by the people of the state that he represents. Secondly, I can't think of ANY politician who does not use his/her position to GAIN something... Case in point G.W. BUSH and his "oil friends" are making $$ hand over fist from the situation that was created when he made the decision to go to war in the middle east ( Did we ever find those "weapons of mass destruction that we were looking for?). I have been on welfare AND I am a recovering crack addict. I sat on welfare for a few years, getting a check and food stamps and living in government housing, getting high the whole time. Believe me when I say that THIS IS AN EPIDEMIC in this country. I have to submit to random drug tests in order to WORK and be paid by my employer. Those people that are honestly in need of help will have no problem with this new law... It is only those people who using ILLEGAL DRUGS who will not want to abide by this law, because they are so use to breaking the law in the first place. Furthermore, Rick Scott did not pass this law all by himself. We still have a system to put laws into effect in the country. If you don't understand how it works, I suggest you look up "Schoolhouse Rock- I Am A Bill" On wikipedia. You may learn something.

      August 12, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick Flanigan

      He Chris, I'm sure glad he's governor and not you. The law doesn't go near far enough. All welfare recipients should be randomly tested & if they fail, go to jail. Or, maybe they can come over to your house and smoke your stash. Scott is in no way perfect, but he's doing good things as Gov.

      August 12, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Eric Anderson

    Just keep popping out kids with no job, and money to do crack and other drugs and the Democrats will keep paying them !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 2, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. john ward

    well it looks like we might see some people to oveing another state. I am retired and i need my MONEY let them work there is a lot of grass to cut in fl.SAVE THE RETIREMENT AND S/s

    August 2, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  11. John

    "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.

    So it is oklay to drug test all our military members, Dr's nurses, policemen and women, some other specific governmental employees as a condition of their employment and they certainly are not "...a bunch of drug abusers", Mr. Simon. The target sir is those dishonest enough to abuse the system. Those who are and will remain clean have no worries. Welfare is meant for those who deserve a fresh start, not to the undeserving and drug use is a violation of the law. Any attorney worth their salt would know that...you of all people should know that! There are consequences to illegal activitiy and this society demands action...this is but one of them we endorse.

    August 2, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Pala

    Why doesn't every state do this so I can have some of my own pay check?

    August 2, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Pala

    Employers need to drug test too. to keep discrimination and harrassment from going on.

    August 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Bahrs

    The ACLU is making absurd statements, as usual. How is having adults receiving assistance take a drug test stereotyping welfare recipients as "drug abusers"? Does requiring a drug test in order to be a waitress, a government employee, a casino worker, or an air traffic controller stereotype them as being drug abusers? I say "hooray" for Gov. Scott and I'm praying that every state follows suit in this area.

    August 3, 2011 at 1:35 am | Report abuse |
  15. celinda

    It is about time someone gets the addicts off our backs Let them get rid of the habit then may American can help rehab. Drunks should be eliminated too–test sobriety! Mandatory sterilization for ADC!!!!

    August 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
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