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. Rick Flanigan

    Good Job Gov. Scott. Thanks for taking the first baby step.

    Howard Simon from the ACLU says "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," but as usual he & the ACLU are wrong. What Scott is doing will help to destroy this stereotype, at least in Florida, because if you're a user – you won't get welfare.

    August 12, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jan Tyler

    This girl, I've known her for 15 years. She has post-traumatic syndrome due to a neglected childhood with numerous molestations involving several perps. She has agoraphobia. Severe depression among many other issues. She is unable to leave the house much less go to mental health clinic. I can't explain exactly why she fears people as she does but the fact is, she does. It is something she has had to adapt herself to. Fortunately, an humanitarian has supplied her with shelter for the rest of her life who also pays for her utilities. All she was lacking was food and the Federal Gov't has been kind enough (or not) to give her a little food. I, as a taxpayer do not begrudge her this, and especially not because she may smoke a joint (which she does only rarely but enough to lose her food.) There is just too much gray area in this law to blanket it with 'cookie-cutter' ideals. My heart is with her...I wasn't able to help her when she needed it but damn let the woman eat....LOL

    August 13, 2011 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brat

      If your friend is not addicted to drugs, then she should have no trouble abstaining from anything to get the tests done. The tests will be done when the person applies and they have control over when that happens. If anyone is worried about getting caught doing illegal drugs, maybe they'll choose food over drugs. If they are addicted, they need to get help and should not be caring for children.

      August 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Brat

    The ACLU's suggestion that this legitimizes the stereotype about welfare people doing drugs is a lame excuse to oppose this. If anything, it would prove that theory wrong. Of course, the ACLU fights against anything that would save the tax payers money, whether it's screening government employees for drugs, questioning public unions and now they hate it that the hard working people in this country oppose subsidizing drug addicts. Well, if people are caring for children and taking our money, they better not be drug addicts or it would defeat the whole purpose of the state giving them money for their children.

    August 14, 2011 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ron

    This is a very good start, now all the States should follow this lead, I agree that we need to stop the flow of Drugs into our Country, One very real way would be to stop the War, bring home all our soldiers by Christmas 2011, and put them on our Boarders with the same Equipment they have over sea's.

    August 16, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David

    I usually support the ACLU but the fact that they oppose this is just ridiculous. Its more a violation of my civil rights to force me to give money to other people, especially if they use it for drugs. I hope this new law is contagious. I have to be drug free to work for my money. Shouldn't those who get it for free be held to the same standard?

    August 18, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • 25 year old

      Heck yeah! Why should anyone getting money for free to help feed their children be able to do drugs, smoke or drink? If you can afford these things, you should be able to get food for your kids! If your drug addiction keeps you from buying school supplies, food, clothing for your kids, you shouldn't get help! They should take your kids from you!!!

      August 19, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
  6. 25 year old

    Why would anyone NOT doing drugs have a problem with this? Illegal substances are....guess what? Illegal? If you are doing something illegal, you should be thankful you're not going to JAIL!! I think this is the best thing to happen to welfare, and I think every bit of free money in any form should be held pending drug screening. If I have to be drug tested to EARN money, why should you not be drug tested to be GIVEN money? If you're using illegal substances and driving, you can be put in jail for reckless endangerment, dui, etc. Why should I pay you to run around buying cocaine, making babies hooked on meth and generally being a burden on society? I think every time you're granted money, be it weekly, monthly, yearly, etc, you should have to pass a drug test. All welfare services should require recipients to be drug free, including nicotine and alcohol. If you can afford to buy illegal or legal substances that do nothing to nourish or protect your body, you can afford food and housing.

    August 19, 2011 at 3:54 am | Report abuse |
    • betty ware

      AMEN, You got it RIGHT. I thank you and GOD thanks you.

      August 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. E.B.Turner

    Maybe the members of ACLU should be drug tested. They certainly act weird at times, this being one!

    August 19, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  8. Matt from Florida

    Anybody who supports forcing drug test upon the poor, or anybody else for that matter, are sheep led by the corporate elite to hand over our personal freedoms, in the name of protecting society. Lets be honest here people. Drug tests are made for marijuana smokers. It is the only illegal or legal substance that can be detected in urine for longer than 7 days, thirty days is common. Most other substances, only last 1-3 days. This is because thc clings to fat cells. The human body has devices for flushing toxins out of itself, so anything harmful is removed. Thus, the very thing that makes marijuana detectable, is evidence of its safety to be consumed. With out marijuana prohibition, most drug test would be obsolete.
    As for the other drugs. We are addictive beings living in a chemical world. Even watching CNN, or any other television channel releases chemicals in the brain causing you to slip into a euphoric trancelike state. Should we ban television? People die from overdoses of caffeine, yet you almost cant eat out in public without paying for an overpriced soda. And drug addiction is a disease, that should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one. Anytime there is a demand for something, and that something is made illegal, a black market is created in which thugs and killers call the shots, and they dont ID. The elite know this, yet they pass these laws to create further tension in the lives of these sick and obviously broke people, so they will turn to crime and violece, endangering us all and justifying their removal from society. The elite dont care about you. They want to control you, and would really like it, if you would just die, yet you sit here and praise their war against liberty. Discusting.

    August 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Matt, break out your bong and leave the thinking to us. I don't care if it would only detect marijuana, neither I nor anyone in their right mind wants to pay for their blunts. You (general you) wanna smoke a bowl.... get a job and buy it yourself.

      August 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeniece-Houston, Texas

      I like what you are saying. I didn't think of that.

      August 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Phyllis

      Well I KNOW this to be a good thing. If you are getting my money, I want to be sure it's going to a GOOD purpose. Not someone to do drugs with. As for Matt, he is just an attention seeking person. Just ignore him and he will go away.

      August 27, 2011 at 10:26 am | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      You go, man! I agree 200%.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jenrose

    The big problem is as much that they're charging people up front for drug tests, when the whole reason people need welfare is that they are broke. Trust me when I say that the majority of welfare recipients do NOT receive enough money to keep any drug habit supplied substantially. Charging people up front and then reimbursing them just creates another barrier to people getting help they desperately need, and THAT is the point, NOT the drug testing. It's just more war on the poor by the rich, and on a case per case basis, it costs the state more than it saves. The people getting hurt are NOT slacker drug users, but single moms and their kids.

    August 24, 2011 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Johannes

    .."-that all welfare recipients are a bunch of drug abusers," said Howard Simon
    Where did Anyone say that ALL welfare recipients are a bunch of drug abusers?!

    August 24, 2011 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lizzy

    To those of you who are rejecting this because you say it's the governments way of invading privacy then don't rely on the government to help. You will always be subject to do things you do or don't like when you have to rely on someone else. I know there are those that were hit by the down-turn of the economy and need help... I don't have a problem with that. My point is that if you don't like the stipulations the general public puts on you when you need their assistance, then go elsewhere. I will make the point that many before me have made... I didn't make a huge deal when my new job required I take a drug test before I could begin work. It's not like they're looking for anything else and will hold it against you. They aren't going to deny you welfare because you may or may not have a health problem. They just want to make sure they're not supporting drug addiction... as a tax payer, I think it is a wonderful idea especially in these hard times when money is tight for all!

    August 24, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. patsy

    ok...now we know this won't fly in California. It would put on the people on drugs to really have a test. Isn't that going against us giving things away free? They would almost have to go get a job? Work like the rest of us? Their are people on welfare that really need it, would have no problem with a drug test. But those using the system would throw up their hands and call foul! God Bless this Governor in Florida. Does he want to reclocate to Calfiornia?

    August 24, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MENS

    Okay, it's very clear that this has kicked up some conflict amongst the "legalize it" crowd and the conformists. For all the "legalizers" it really doesnt matter what the drug is, mirjuana, cocaine, heroin. Yes, marijuana does stay in the system longer than any other drug but that does not make it more likely to be the only drug detected. Heroin, cocaine, crystal meth (pretty much any other drug) are all extremely addictive drugs, more so than marijuana. Due to the fact that these drugs are also physically addicting the chances are more likely that the drug user will be unable to just stop using them. And yes, drug addiction is a disease, which is treated by the medical fields and insurance companies as a medical illness and should therefor not be looked down upon by society. Now, drugs are illegal. Marijuana is not in some situations and places. It is being used medically just as painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, and many other classes. Now of course there are people using and abusing these drugs illegally. The same goes with alcohol which is legal, taxable, and mood altering. None of that really has anything to do with whether or not there should be drug testing for welfare recipients. That all has to do with opinions on drugs, taxes, and many other various opionions of that sort.
    This new law is being passed to deter people from using drugs and to give an incentive to stay off drugs. Another reason could be to stop the neglect of children that are being raised by drug addicts (marijuana addicts?). These are wonderful ideas. It really is simple. Drugs are illegal. Don't do drugs. The fact that there must be an incentive in order just to follow the law and not do drugs is proof of something. This is supposed to help taxpayers. Taxpayers which are really upset that they go to work while people on welfare get high all day. This is all very understandable. The taxpayers want to be able to go to work, make their money, come home and have dinner with their family. They want to be able to provide for the grocery shopping, school shopping, and the house. In having all these things in life they usually don't mind paying their taxes as long as they are being put to good use and not being wasted on things like drugs for other people. What if the other people doing drugs happen to have children of their own? What if they happen to get drug tested in order to receive their welfare check which is needed to supply food, heat, water, and shelter? Should their children be taken away from them because they are drug addicts? Should their children be put into foster care which is funded by taxes? Is there not already a problem in foster care system? Is being taken away from mommy and daddy not going to have an affect on the child and possibly cause drug probems anyway? Are there not going to be older children in the foster care home who are already experimenting with drugs? And how do all these homeless drugaddicts afford to go to rehabs? Are they funded by the cities taxes? And so the cycle goes on.
    I personally used to think this was a great idea until I thought of all those questions. I've read and heard a lot of opinions of this matter but that is the one issue I have heard nothing about.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
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  15. Scott Kostenbauder

    Good move FL. If a job requires it, this testing may be part of a job application. The work is already done for the company. ACLU chew on that and stuff it.

    August 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
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