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. Kathy

    Maybe if the welfare folks didn't have to pay for this test out of their own pocket, and if Rick Scott's own company wasn't processing these tests (thus making him big bucks), I could support it. Instead, he wants these people to take the money they're using to survive to pay for it. Sorry, I can't get with that. And frankly, his company shouldn't process ANY of these tests. too much conflict of interest.

    August 26, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • KennyK

      Kathy, if they pass the test they get reimbursed.

      September 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ken N Missouri

    3 cheers for the FL Governor.. I wish our Governor had the balls to do the same. As a taxpayer, it's only right that if we have to take the drug test to earn our salary and pay state taxes, then it should only be fair that the people getting our tax money should have to take the same drug test. AZ, I hope you're next.

    August 31, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KennyK

    Millions of hard working Americans is subject to random drug testing in their workplace. Why should welfare recipients be any different?

    September 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Hilary Cook

    September 6, 2011
    BY HILARY COOK

    I am in support of mandatory drug testing before an individual is permitted to be on state welfare. The welfare system has gotten out of control; government handouts should not be given to those who take advantage of the system.
    As a taxpayer, I am not interested in paying for a drug addict’s addiction. Many people use the welfare system in order to continue living a destructive lifestyle; a system designed to aid people trying to better their lives has now been turned into something that decreases motivation and incentive to be a hard-working member of society.
    Many people today receive more money from welfare than they would from a minimum-wage job. This causes a major problem for the system as incentive to get off welfare is largely decreased by those people who would simply rather receive a hand-out than to actually get a job. Along with that, drug addicts who cannot keep a job because of mandatory drug testing at work are able to receive welfare without the drug tests. It doesn’t make sense that a drug addict cannot work because of their addiction, yet they are eligible to receive “free money” from our government, and hard-working citizens like myself, who do not do drugs, are responsible to pay for their habits.
    With mandatory drug testing prior to receiving welfare, we can ensure at least that the money being given to people on welfare is not going towards a drug habit, and is hopefully going towards helping individuals to be active in society and to get a job so that welfare is not a long-term option. Drug testing provides a big incentive for people to get clean and stay away from drugs in order to receive welfare. This will increase personal responsibility and motivation to stay clean. I believe that there are many people on welfare who are not abusing the system, yet it seems today that the system is more corrupt than not. Mandatory drug testing should be required to ensure that welfare be used for its original intent of getting people back on their feet rather than enabling a dangerous habit and requiring taxpayers to pay for it.

    September 6, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Janie Kuebler

    Amen to that!!! Finally someone is thinking. The rest of the states should follow Gov. Rick Scott decision and is a smart one. Let’s all make a difference. That’s the AMERICA WAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 7, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Starbuck777

      The ACLU is saying they are not druggies.. then they should be happy about the tests to prover their point. Otherwise maybe they are a bunch of drug addicts. Testing will let us all kmow including the dreaded ACLU....

      September 27, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Kellli

      hey Dick Scott next time you gonna make a mandatory law for drug testing for welfare recipients make sure Lap Corp has enough cups to drug test people smfh

      October 9, 2011 at 8:18 am | Report abuse |
    • karen

      Well, Florida, looks like your attempt to put those awful poor people in their place is costing you a whole lot more money than the money 'saved' by denying welfare. Aren't you proud you supported more government spending?

      Just another GOP manufactured indignation fizzle-out.

      October 10, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • hiway280z

      Now they can get rid of their welfare druggies. They will leave and go to a state that codles them. Calif. is good for that. Years back many found out Calif gave more money and lots moved there. All states should do it. We have to to get a job.

      November 21, 2011 at 1:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. john

    Wow...It's about time! No freebies to freeloading druggies...

    September 19, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. tom welte

    Maybe I missed this, but does this also mandate having random drug tests while on welfare? It's easy to clean up for a test you know is going to happen, so you need to do it while on welfare also.

    September 22, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chicago Chic

    awesome – go Gov. Scott!! – finally someone is standing-up for the taxpayers- i'd like to see illinois implement the same thing! but don't tell me, i know, FAT CHANCE of that happening here anytime, but a girl can dream. hahaha

    September 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. luis

    the thing is you are all bleek minded individuals with no life, the issue here is that its not suppose to steriotype the poor but its a p;olicy to stick it to the illegal drug users, i believe the drug policy should be changed, but untill then we should keep fighting small batlles to win the war and let me tell you this is a small victory for us

    September 25, 2011 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Larry

    I work for the local county and we have random drug testing. I have been tested 3 times over the years and it has never bothered me. I think you should be tested eveytime you come in to pick up your wellfair check. It would be expensive at first but look at all the money we would save in the long run. If people complain they must have something to hide.

    September 26, 2011 at 7:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Kellli

      Larry ur so ignorgrant they dont pick up welfare checks it goes on a card dick head whats next drug testing kids to be on medicard

      October 9, 2011 at 8:20 am | Report abuse |
  11. Paul

    You go Rick Scott ! Finally somebody with stones & common sense ! I worked for a company that drug tested and didn't mind a bit. Of course, I wasn't guilty of anything ?????? That always bothers me when I hear these whiners yell about their "privacy". If so many people weren't breaking the law, then we all wouldn't have to worry about our privacy, eh ?

    September 28, 2011 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. bear

    If u have to drug test to get a job or have random drug testing to keep a job, then why all the fuss. y r the working people getting picked on. they should have started the drug testing for welfare a long time ago no one is picking on anyone except the people who pay taxes and support the generations of welfare

    October 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Tammy

    I have been saying for years that since I have the possibility of being randomly screened for illegal substances to keep my job then the people sitting at home while my tax dollars pay for them to live should be as well. For that matter think of the jobs that could be created for people to randomly screen public assistance recipients. To be screened just to receive benefits is a waste of time. Someone showing up at the door to randomly test might make people realize that "nobody rides for free" anymore.

    October 6, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Logan

    KELLI, sounds to me like you have something to hide and are scared of losing your welfare. and it is MEDICAID not medicard. there is no reason that taxpayers should have to support druggies. most welfare recipients' family members in their home is probably making bank selling drugs.

    October 11, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JL

    How about ALL the hard working American citizens suing the ACLU and others who are trying to force us to pay for illegal drug and dope habits for those who are to lazy to work? What happened to our rights? What law say's we are required to support illegal habits, AND those who are to lazy to work? I believe it's time we filed a CLASS ACTION LAW SUIT against the ACLU to protect our rights, and our income we work so hard for!

    October 22, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
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