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. Owens

    ...should lose their kids...hmmm. does that include drugs from your doctor that you don't need, or just illegal drugs?

    June 6, 2011 at 5:38 am | Report abuse |
  2. Owens

    good thing that I can still get drunk and get
    me some food stamps!

    June 6, 2011 at 5:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. mark

    So if they fail the weldare drug test, are they arrested for breaking the law or just told no welfare today.

    June 6, 2011 at 6:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Donald in CA

    This guy was a idiot before he was elected, but the good people of florida elected him anyways. He thinks only people of color are on welfare. The right wing are ruining this country and making a joke out of america to the world. All because they went crazy when a black president was elected.

    June 6, 2011 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Bethany

      I'm sure that's not the case. Because 70% of welfare recipients are white. I don't think it's racist to demand personal responsibility. (I am black, btw.)

      June 6, 2011 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. mark

    So the welfare people don't inform the police if you fail the test? That 4ounds like covering up a crime.

    June 6, 2011 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. mark

    Does welfare still offset the cost of xanax and prozac? Seroquel? A weed?

    June 6, 2011 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. silvio

    this is going after the potheads, the hard drugs leave your body after 3 days

    June 6, 2011 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Bethany

      Well, I certainly dont have a problem with the use of pot in general - however, I have a MAJOR problem with people taking money out of my paycheck for non-necessities – including pot, booze, cigarettes, cable TV, cell phones, etc.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. Nate

    My sister Jennifer was a drug addict for 13 years. She struggled for many years and could not find the help she needed. In and out of rehab, hospitals, we never knew where she was staying from one night to the next. It was terrible. And above all – we knew she was tormented by her addiction. We lived in Florida and there's a law called The Marchman Act that allows for involuntary drug treament. It basically allows law enforcement to pickup that person and take them to a secure facily for a short period of time. The problem is the cost of filing (upwards of $300) and the depth of the bill only allows for a few days treatment.

    My sister ultimately died of her addiction, she did not make it. Many people can't make it on their own. In repsonse, my mother and I have created a website called http://www.thejenniferact.com and the goal is to create sweeping legislation that can help family members help their loved ones get the treatment they need. I encourage you to go on our website and see if you find anything that helps. It's hard when you google things to get personal response, but I assure you that our website is designed to help people just like you. Feel free to go there and comment, we have resources and you can connect with others who struggle with the same issues.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. SupportAZ

    Personally I would like to see this implemented nationwide. Drug testing to receive welfare and contraception if you're on welfare. If you can't afford the children you have now, you certainly don't need to bring more into this world.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samantha

      Drug tests to receive contraception? Why on earth would you want people that fail drug tests to NOT get contraception?

      June 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Renee

      He didnt mean take a drug test to recieve contraception. He meant that if you are approved for welfare then they should automatically give it to you so you dont bring anymore kids into this world that you cant support. Any ole druggie can go to the health dept and get birth control for free if they wanted to...

      June 7, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
  10. SupportAZ

    There should also be a codicil to this, if you test positive, (for other than a valid reason} then it should be required that you go into treatment. We have to stop the insane cycle that we have in this country.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jess

    wow, at first i was “re-posting” and pressing "like" to all this welfare testing, and then I researched it and discovered a disturbing reality, RICK SCOTT, (wife) owns the drug testing facility. Hmmm, that being the case, we really need to rethink this a little. Who are we going to test? How often would they be tested? For $40.00 you can buy all kinds of clean urine products, WHO would Be administrating test? IF ITS PRIVET SECTOR, THEN SCOTT really needs to be brought up on charges, I won’t have a problem with say a place like probation offices, the HRS building though government bought and office administered testing kits. ect, ect (maybe, still need to look into it more) but privet sector, ABSOULTY NOT !!!! Think about it, there needs to be a lot of restriction, and rules to do this. People on unemployment, most of them will be taking pre-hire drug test already, so would they have to take two test? That is even more money in RICK SCOTT’s pocket. Might want to do a little more research folks. Before we get to excited. I am for testing among welfare at random and as long as the testing monies go back into the system. Just a consideration.

    June 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • JayMack

      He may own the drug testing facility all tests are reimbursed if passed. It's not about money it's about the misappropriation of taxpayers dollars. Who by the way most have to submit to random drug tests to keep their jobs

      June 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nikta

      JayMack – state pays instead of recipient if recipient is clean – testing company still gets paid. So it IS about the money.

      June 6, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • jess

      I would not be against paying for some (Depo-Provera) birth control shots, for people on welfare. Absolutely a great idea.. You say this isn't about money, yay, gov scott... huh,,, don’t be mistaken. It is ALL about money, welfare money, taxpayer’s money. How do you think they are getting reimbursed for the test when they pass?? Hello. Taxes. IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY, that’s why there hasn't been a law thus far,. We are not talking about a few dollars; we are talking MILLIONS, even BILLIONS. They get reimbursed!!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you getting that? What is the common price of a clinical drug screening, $ 60.00-100.00. Multiply times 200,000 people in Florida on welfare. NOT ABOUT THE MONEY? I know Scott says 700,000 privet sectors is expected to jump on board. Well at $10- 25 a test. Do you really think 700,000 new businesses what a small part of $ 2,50,000.00 come on, they all won’t be able to pay the light bills… and when funds are low, taxes will pick up that bill too. . Just a consideration.

      June 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • SadLlama

      You realize that the Florida House and Senate also passed this bill. Do they all own drug testing facilities as well?

      June 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. green bean

    I think this is the right thing to do!n it should be legal everywhere!while were working hard for our money others on welfare use it for drugs!I seen a lady with gold bracelets up her arms thick rope chain n a brand new benz!n she busted out an EBT car!that's ridiculous!n BS!I'm glad they are doing this!

    June 6, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Corey

    As a liberal democratic person, I'm definitely in favor of this. The welfare system is a good system to help those that need help, not to feed lazy people sucking off the system and giving it a bad rap. If I have to drug test to supply money into the welfare system, they should provide drug for those taking from the system!

    June 6, 2011 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Crystal

    I have to take a drug test to work and earn money. Why shouldn't people who don't work,pop out kids and get a free check monthly for doing nothing have to take a drug test? If your not doing any thing wrong than you have nothing to worry about do you?

    June 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Advntrgrl

    It is about time that someone in government used that little organ located in their skull for a little something called common sense! Thank you Govenor Scott...and when can you come to Pennsylvania?

    June 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • support

      If he does tell him to stop in MINNESOTA! PLEASE

      June 6, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
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