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. support

    This is great! It is about time!! If you are asking for gov help then you need to follow the laws of the country! If you want to "do your thing" then don't ask for our hard earned money!!!!

    June 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Franny

    The whole county needs to implement this. As to the ACLU they need to go away. They are always standing in the way claiming they are here for peoples rights. They are here for there own crazy agenda. Why should I have to submit to a drug test for every job I apply for (yes even the federal government job) and then have to pay taxes for those on drugs to receive welfare? UM NO. If you have money to pay for drugs you have money to feed yourself. If you have money to smoke and drink don't come saying you can't afford your medicine or food. Come on really?? Americans have become a sue happy, lay on their butts with their hand out society.

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

    "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.

    I love that this is posted. HOW DUMB! If you pass the test and prove you are not on drugs than you get to go on welfare!!! Just like if you pass the drug test for a job, you get the job, if you don't pass, you don't get the job. WHOA COMMON SENSE PEOPLE! DONT DO DRUG AND YOU WILL ACUTALLY GET PLACES AND GET THE HELP YOU NEED.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Laura (Texas)

    This needs to be a nationwide law!!! Thank you Scott for finally stepping up and making welfare recipients stay drug free!!! If my tax dollars are going to feed another "family" I want to know it's taking care of their family and not their addiction. I hope more people see the way you do soon!

    June 6, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bethany

    Finally!! The other states need to get going on this. If we drug test workers, why not welfare?

    June 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. jess

    and I QUOTE,, "Scott said, as part of his seven-step plan to create 700,000 private-sector jobs, that he could save taxpayers $77 million by adding a testing requirement and more stringent work provisions." hmmmm save $77,million. yet cost to us just in one test per person alone say minimum 10 million, just for one test per person. so how often do we test a person? 1, 2, 3 times a year, more? get your calculator back out... and count on half of these people buying a drug cleaner product. drug addicts that work the system, will work the testing process. FACT!!!!!!!!

    June 6, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jess

    please don't take me wrong, i am for drug testing, just figure out a way where it will work in the real world that wont cost us even more money that we're saving. if you look at this as a whole picture, if they receive a benefit check, budget, budget like the rest of us, and you should be able to afford $10-20 out of your checks. not for anything, but if a welfare recipient smokes cigarettes or drinks. aren't we paying for these items too. if you can afford drugs you can afford food!! absolutely. well if you can afford to smoke ciggs, or drink, you can afford a $10.00 drug test. no?????

    June 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  8. lady

    im all for drug testing but what if you have a job just need a little extra help because your job doesnt pay well or have health benefits. Are they going to reimburse me for the time i have to miss at work to go down and take a drug test. I know for sure they will have to reimburse the money for my testing. I cant afford to miss any work just to satisfy someone. Prices are going up for everything....Food, clothing, shelter, gas but yet my pay isnt increasing along with it. I think they might need to change or add a few things to the law to better suit people that have jobs and just need a little extra help vs. people who are plain out lazy and dont have a job at all.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
    • erika

      If you work so many hours that you would have to take time off from work to go to the welfare office, then you won't qualify for TANF anyway. The drug testing is not for Medicaid or Food Stamp recipients, it seems, just for cash assistance.

      June 7, 2011 at 12:23 am | Report abuse |
    • aasland

      Lady, usually when you apply for any kind of aid through the state, you have to have a meeting with them anyway. So you will have to take time off of work to go down to the welfare office and meet with a case worker and you wont be reimbursed for your time off of work for that.. so maybe they will make you take the drug test at the same appointment so you wont have to miss multiple days from work.. or maybe they will give you an appointment slip for a lab that is open after hours. Either way, if you NEED the extra help, you will make a way to get it. So even if you have to go back a second time for the drug test, I bet you will do it. I know I would if thats what was required, because I NEED the help, although I also work full time.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
    • aasland

      Erika, That is a good point. I didn't even think of that. You do have to have very minimal income to even qualify for TANF anyway.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  9. Barbra

    GREAT IDEA! WISH THIS WAS A FEDERAL LAW, and it should apply to food stamp recipients as well.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:02 am | Report abuse |
    • robert

      so you think starving a kid is fine cause his parent smoked a joint?? wow ppl are monsters

      June 7, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      If people have to go through drug testing for a job, why should people not be tested to get "free" money? Robert, aren't kids suffering as it is being in a household with drugs? If people want to use government programs, than they should be subject to any and all screening. Why refuse if you got nothing to hide?

      June 7, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Robert, the law states that if you fail the drug test you can designate someone else to receive payment of behalf of the children. Also if the parents are drug addicts they should have their kids anyways.

      June 7, 2011 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
    • EJ

      Robert, if it comes down to the kid starving or the parent smoking a joint and the parent still decides to smoke that joint then they are the true monsters... Does that pill, joint, or whatever drug mean so much to people that they won't give it up to provide a health, stable environment for their children. This program is in place to help the children, help clean their drug abusing, negligent parents up! No one is saying that all govt. Assisted families are drug users but growing up in a home which was a govt assisted drug addicted family, in proud of this governor and hope all states take this same step! Maybe if they had done this 24 years ago my mother wouldn't be 55 years old and addicted still to crack cocaine and pills.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  10. Frankie

    People don't have to be on drugs to abuse welfare.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lola

    If they want applicants to undergo drug screen the welfare should pay for it. If people are applying for assistance they don't have money to pay for a drug screen. Poor people are being targeted because of the need for assistance. Everyone on welfare are not drug abusers, what about people who work or are very prominent abuse drugs, but people don't care because they are not down and out. If the governor wants to implement this he should go about it and research the root of the problem instead of stereotyping welfare recipients as druggies.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      If your not using than you should have nothing to hide! Also, if some CEO is using that's his/her problem.... until someone else pays their bills. There is no stereotype. It must be some huge conspiracy that 80% of people in jail are people with a drug addiction and happen to have a low income. When a bank gives money they do a credit check first right....

      June 7, 2011 at 7:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Betsch

      Lola, you are going to receive cash, most companies require that you pay for things like licensing exams, etc up front and after you pass them, you are reimbursed, same deal. Please explain why you feel that people who who actually have a job and make the sacrifices needed to keep it should pay for ANYONE not willing to make ANY effort to receive assitance that they need?? That is highly irresponsible behavior.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
    • katie

      Lola, my national company has a zero drug tolerance. It does urine drug screens and background checks on everyone from people making $100,000/yr to part time minimum wage associates. And as far as taking time off work- it is usually a 5 min urine sample at clinics that take walk ins.
      Also I lived in Florida most of my life and have seen first hand the horrible drug problem there and some not all abusing welfare.

      June 7, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  12. Gigi

    When you go get a drivers license, you must take time off work. You must have the money to cover the fee. You must pass a vision test because it doesn't make sense to let someone incapable of driving on the road.
    Hard-working people like myself must take drug tests to be hired. That is how I make my money- through my job. No one complains about vision tests at the DMV. No one complains about drugs tests at my white collar job. It is just a fact of life that oftentimes, you must do something that makes people trust you in advance so that you can get something you need. If you really can't get off of drugs, let CPS take your kids; they'll be better off.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • aasland

      Gigi, awesome post! Couldnt have said it better myself. I don't know what the fuss it about.

      June 7, 2011 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jen

    Where I work, I had to sign an agreement stating I would comply if I were ever subject to a drug test because my company has a no-tolerance drug policy. I don't see how this is any different.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:13 am | Report abuse |
  14. Susan

    I agree with the drug testing, just don't know what took so long. If you're not on drugs you won't have a problem, right? Congrats to the Govenor of Florida, 1 down 49 to go! Bravo Florida

    June 7, 2011 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    I think this is a great idea and would like to see it at all levels. No different than taking a drug test to get hired and random drug test while you work somewhere. If you don't take drugs then this shouldn't be a problem. Our tax dollars are going to some people that sit around doing drugs. If you want to do drugs then don't take the welfare money. Same should go for food stamps. If you care about your kids then get off the drugs.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
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