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. PHILLIP

    drug test every one.... if i have to pass a drug test to pay taxes... ( get job) then it only fair that the people getting my money take a drug test also... ... save our country save me money .... save your self... it makes me sick to go to store and find i cant have them steaks i want only to see the person in front of me loaded up on them on my money i payed in ... DRUG TEST EVERY ONE THAT GETS MY MONEY OR GET YOUR OWN JOB..... STILL HAVE TO TAKE THE DRUG TEST...

    August 4, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ashley

    I live in new york, and i receive food stamps. I am so glad that florida had started this trend for drug testing and hope that ny follows suit soon. though i feel that it shouldnt be for just cash assistance. I have seen so many people sell their food stamps for $0.50 to every $1 just to buy drugs. Taking food out of the mouths of their children and sitting on their butts doing nothing. If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear. And if you can afford drugs in anyway then you should not be on any sort of public assistance. As so many people have already said, why is it fair that we as workers can be drug tested just to get a job, when those receiving p.a dont? If there were less deserving people on welfare then maybe our local governments were ever they are could start spending the money on those who deserve it, such as education and the creation of more jobs.

    August 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joseph Jones

    I totally agree, all states should do the same!!!

    August 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nedra

      I am behind you Governor Scott 100%. Lack accountability and the feeling that it is due me is a large problem in this country!

      August 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andi

      You know, I am a nursing student. I had to be drug tested to be accepted into the nursing program, all the students are eligible for randomized screenings, i had to be drug tested at the nursing home that I just got a job at,...I have to be drug tested to WORK for my money, anyone receiving aid should be drug tested in order to recieve their FREE money! it makes me so sick that it took this long to get this movement going!

      August 9, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. charlie

    This should be nation wide. Drug screenining is manditory for most employment for tax paying americans. I understand the needy, but if they need it then they should comply to get my tax paid money....

    August 8, 2011 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. linda young

    this is a great thing. its about time. now those people who are living off the gov . will be stopped. they are not laughing anymore .

    August 8, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gene Thompson

      What people fail to recognize is that drug addiction is a health issue. If the government were to spend more money on rehab programs for these people we would also have less crime.

      August 10, 2011 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Rick Flanigan

      To Gene Thompson, of course drug addiction is a health issue, so is shooting yourself in the head. Most companies require drug testing so you can get money for work, of course they should have to drug test to get money for free. I don't believe the law goes far enough. ALL existing welfare recipients should also have to drug test and randomly drug test throughout the entire time they are on welfare. You fail, you're fired, oops that's in the real world, isn't it?

      August 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • deanna

      Why I think this is bad government policy: http://www.commonblog.com/2011/08/12/florida%E2%80%99s-bad-tanf-policy/

      August 15, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Really ? The Aclu doesn't like it ? I'm totally amazed ....NOT . I wish there was a way to disbar them ., sometimes they just get so stupidly out of control.

      August 17, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dana

    I have to agree with Florida Governor Rick Scott. He is taking the first step in trying to correct the issue of people taking advantage of the "welfare system". It all has to start somewhere. TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families), hence the word "Temporary", is meant to assist people in returning or gaining self sufficiancy. If people are using drugs, they get "accustomed" to their welfare lifestyle, they don't seek jobs due to potential employer drug testing. Using drugs really doesn't lead to living a productive life. Their choice of lifestyle should not be the tax payers burden. If the people are truely wanting self sufficiency, using the Welfare programs temporarily to gain self sufficiency, then they shouldn't have any issue with drug testing before they are issued their monthly assistance. This has gone on for years and I'm glad this governor is taking the first step in attempting to shorten the length of time people are on Welfare and stop the generational way of living. I'm hoping the other States will follow!

    August 9, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Yan

      If I as a PO3 in USN am required to undergo random drug testing to keep my job I don't see why people that don't work or don't want to work can't if they want to continue to get their checks in the mail. It is illegal according to federal law to do drugs so what is the big deal...

      August 9, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick Flanigan

      To Yan, Thank you for your service. You are 100% correct. Booya! From a Vietnam Vet.

      August 12, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed

      Dana, you are correct. Too much abuse. I don't think this law goes far enough, welfare money given to recipients should be controlled so that it can't be used to purchase any alcohol, tabacco or fast food. In fact, they should only be allowed to purchase healthy food which must be prepared from scratch. Lord knows they have the time if they don't work! In fact, for every dollar they receive, if they are healthy and can work, then they should be contributing time to our society by cleaning the streets, public toilet, parks, etc. You don't like it, then stop taking my money!

      August 16, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. SingleMOMof2

    This a great thing! To many people abuse the assistance. It's not stereotyping anyone. Americans have to drug test for jobs so why not people that get welfare? Some places in my area are now testing for nicotine and if positive you would have to re-apply in 3 months.

    August 10, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Mom of 5

      I get it with drugs but nicotine! Cigarettes are at least legal and will not prevent you from getting a job, whats next?

      August 18, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • 25 year old

      To Mom of 5: Nicotine IS a drug. If you have money enough to smoke a pack or more a day, but don't have enough money to buy food for your children, you should QUIT smoking, and you shouldn't be asking for assistance unless you STILL cannot feed your children after you save approximately $1500 a year....That's $4 a day..if you only spend $4 a pack and smoke a pack a day, you spend around $1500 a year on cigs. Now if you and your husband smoke, each a pack a day? Well guess what? That's $3000 a year. Hmmm...children who's parents smoke are much more likely to smoke as well, and if you smoke, and your child smokes, and that child steals a pack of yer cigs every day, that amount bounds up to $4500 a year.....catch my drift? If you can afford to smoke, you can afford to buy food, or school supplies for your children, or a lovely new coif to help you get a freaking job. I understand some people are unable to get a job due to injury or medical problems...it's the people who just don't because they don't want to that are the problem. I see people going through the lines with WIC checks, spending the amount of money they would have on the items provided them on cigarettes in the very next transaction. I do not think that people who do ANY kind of drug not prescribed to them should be permitted to have assistance. That includes alcohol. Alcohol is a drug too! If you can buy a 24 pack of beer a day, you can afford to feed your children!!!!!

      August 19, 2011 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  8. FreddieB

    The tax payer (income earner) should not have to pay for those who CHOSE to take drugs. People who take drugs do it as an escape for the situations they find themselves in due to poor decisions made earlier in life. Maybe this is one step to getting recepients to think before they act.

    August 10, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  9. GJ

    I read another article about this that quoted "Rep. Alcee Hastings. "If Governor Scott wants to drug test recipients of TANF benefits, where does he draw the line? Are families receiving Medicaid, state emergency relief, or educational grants and loans next?"" Welfare is the only of the aforementioned where you physically receive money. I never touch the money provided by medicaid when I go to the doctor and my college grants go straight to my school. Americans should not mind having our taxes go to helping families who are sick and want to be educated, and it gives me peace of mind knowing that my money will not be feeding into others' addictions. The vast majority of those addicted do not want to seek help, either.

    August 10, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jan

    That man should receive an award. Maybe other states will wake up and do the same. Saw a person in grocery store buying lobster and steaks a few years back when I was struggling to feed my 2 children after a divorce. The Welfare system has long been abused, about time someone took a stand.

    August 11, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
  11. Aneri

    OMG It's about time something is being done. It's about time!!!! What I don't understand is how it went on for so long without anything being done? Thank you Mr. Scott 🙂

    August 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joyce

    Getting back to the issue of drug testing before issuing welfare checks to anyone-–You have to stop the use of these drugs before you worry about rehabilitation.(Gene's posting on August 19,2011. This isn't infringing on anyone's rights–what about the legal folks on welfare or those who apply for jobs??? Nearly every employer requires a drug test before hiring new employees. I think this is a good thing and I hope all state follow in Florida's thinking and enact similar legislation.

    August 11, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kay

    I totally agree with his idea. I currently have a son on welfare due to a custody battle and would welcome him being tested. The mother is a drug user and this would just help in his custody and hold other accountable for their actions.
    we have to be tested for most jobs these days so we can get paid, so should people on state assistance.

    August 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tom

    I belive this is a great thing. I had to get drug tested in the marines. I had to get drug tested as a fire fighter and I have to get drug tested as a highyway employee. So in those 3 jobs I was getting money from the government as an employee trying to support my family. What's wrong with haveing to be tested as an unemployed citizen. I'm all for helping those in need but tired of people using our hard earned money as a easy way out. If you are living right and trying it shouldn't be a problem. Maybe a little tough love is what this country needs

    August 11, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Richard

    About time they got this ball rolling, now if they only include food stamps and all other goverment aid along with it, we can start shrinking our NAtional Deficit a little more. Anyone know what happens when they fail the drug screening? Life time ban from any Gov't Aid, I hope.

    August 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
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