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. del1981

    For those of you who think we are porfiling thats a bunch of CRAP..Drug test are done EVERYDAY on jobs around the country. In fact they are done to responsible HARD WORKING CITIZENS many who have NEVER done any drugs in their life. Are thye offended........ NO!! They do it because its a job requirement! I have had mandatory drug test for many jobs. I have NEVER thought twice about doing it! Beacuse I am not a drug addict! I was never upset that I had to go to a Lab and I NEVER got paid to go get a DRUG test. Welfare is supporting their lives just like my job supports mine. There should be requirements infact there should be specific criteria a person must meet to obtain welfare. My job requires me to have certain skillsand meet certain requirements. It is only fair that we all have the same RESPONSIBLITY!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. melissa

    If the person is on drugs is the GOVERNMENT going to offer treatment for that person? I agree that people should be tested drugs are a horrible thing and if people who have jobs need to be tested then people who don't should be too. But if they want help will medicaid be offered for help?????

    June 7, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
    • del1981

      good point!! And yes I work with this system and Medicaid offers many drug treatment centers. go to any Emergency Room and check inand tell them you need to withdrawl and need help. a social worker will connect you to a treatment center and methadone clinic. Help is out there!!! trust me

      June 7, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. del1981

    I saw that one person has made a comment that we are starving children because a parent wants to smoke a joint.

    IF THEY WERE TRULY A PARENT THEY WOULD NOT BE SMOKING JOINTS AND JEOPARDIZING THEIR CHILDS ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT ASSITANCE. WHERE IS THE PARENTAL RESPONSIBILTY. I HAVE A CHILD AND I WOULD NEVER DO ANYTHING THAT COULD POTENTIALLY HARM THEM. IF THE CHILD DOES NOT GET WELFARE BECAUSE THE PARENTS WANT TO "SMOKE A JOINT" THEN BLAME THE PARENTS FOR TAKING FOOD OUT OF THEIR OWN CHILD MOUTH NOT THE SYSTEM. THE SYSYTEM DID NOT FORCE THE PARENTS TO BE RECKLESS.THE SYSTEM DID NOT FORCE THE PARENTS TO PUT THEIR OWN NEEDS BEFORE THEIR CHILDS. THATS THE PROBLEM WITH THE SYSYTEM EVERYONE WANTS TO BLAME SOMEONE ELSE. WE ALL NEED TO BE ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR ACTIONS AND ACCEPT THE CONSEQUENCE! THATS HOW WE LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES. INSTEAD OUR SOCIETY HAS A BUNCH OF PEOPLE MAKING MISTAKES BUT NEVER LEARNING. THOSE OF YOU SAY THAT PEOPLE ON WELFARE DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR DRUG TEST. LETS TAKE A SURVEY AND SEE HOW MANY OF THEM HAVE A CELL PHONE. SHUT THE CELL PHONE OFF FOR ONE MONTH AND BE RESPONSIBLE AND PAY FOR A DRUG TEST!!!! FURTHER MORE IT WAS NEVER STATED THAT THE STATE WOULD NOT PAY FOR THE DRUG TEST.

    June 7, 2011 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  4. Desitny

    I think this is a good idea it would help people that really need help get help. I an a single mom I work hard every day to pay my bills yet I see people everyday who who do abuse the system and sit at home wasting there money on stupid things. Its about time something gets done not saying that its everyone but majority of them are the stereotype and the state allows it there needs to be harsher rules

    June 7, 2011 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Dana

    I personally think it's pretty funny how people will say they don't have the money to pay for a drug test, but they have extra money to purchase joints. Am I missing something?

    June 7, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dana

    And I also think that instead of offering the benefits to the family members of those that test positive, the state should take advantage of the knowledge that the parents are doing drugs to HELP THE CHILDREN and use the information to remove the children from a harmful drug-filled environment!

    June 7, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. kiki

    I was on welfare when I was pregnant with my son and for some time after that... I legitimately needed the aide and to this day I would get drug tested to have access to that program again!

    June 7, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. Slick

    I think its good news because I personally know people who abuse the system and use their assistance in exchange for drugs and other things and ITS NOT RIGHT! I am currently on assistance with a family of four working a full-time job and other families similar to mine with no legitimate income and they are way better off financially....that means their is something wrong with the system.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. mikeN Ga

    Bravo Florida!!! Aclu is a joke, the people who they are defending are still laying in bed or sitting on their porches waiting on a check.Makes you proud to be an American.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  10. Shanna

    About time...all states need to enforce this!

    June 7, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Michael

    It's about time. I really hope this spreads north. I know people who trade food stamps for drugs constantly. This is a prime example of a law that should be a no brainer..

    June 7, 2011 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. Sal

    Of course the ACLU has to put their two cents in and cry invasion of privacy.

    June 7, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lauren

    Re:"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."- It is true that not all welfare recipients are using the money to feed their addictions, but it is common knowledge that there are many who do. That being said, the trend in this country is to make new laws based on the illicit behavior of a just a few people. The schools are just one example – no touching among students, no running, even cartoon drawings of weapons will get a kid suspended. And don't get me started on airport security! I agree that if the working person is required to have drug testing (and even if they weren't) then the non-working who receive money from the taxpaying public should too and that goes for those collecting unemployment also. Welfare has been a way of life for about 4 generations of some families now and it has got to stop. Way to go Florida! Come on Texas, get on board with this!

    June 7, 2011 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. Susie

    ABOUT TIME! I am tired of people not even trying and getting more than I can as a teacher with a college degree...I can't even rent a 4 bedroom apartment for my kids and I because I make too much $....and these are nice apartments! If a person isn't doing drugs they should have no problem proving it. I am happy to help someone as long as they are trying to help themselves. How it is, welfare has made it easy for many to be lazy and not try....I hope other states jump on this band wagon!

    June 7, 2011 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • dman

      You are teaching in the wrong place. Move to Long Island, where the starting teacher's salary is in the low $40,000 range, the average teacher's salary is $65,000 a year, and the top teachers make close to $150,000.

      June 7, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. MK

    ITS ABOUT TIME!!!!! Cmon TEXAS lets do this same thing ASAP....the ACLU does NOT run this country!!!!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
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