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. Susie

    unfortunatly I recently learner that there are ways to cheat on a drug test...but hopefully one is used that can detect that sorta thing...

    June 7, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. Kim in California

    If it's legal for us to go through drug testing to get a job, then why not require them to take a drug test to take my money that I earn from that job?

    June 7, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  3. greg

    Come on Scott.....( I mean Scott Walker) you need to follow Florida and get Wisconsin dead beats off the system. I personally have been random drug tested for the 27 years just so I can stay employed and be able to pay my bills and my 30 % taxes !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  4. J

    If you support this check out the Facebook page


    June 7, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. kelly

    About time! I am 36 years a single parent and I work Full time.. I had to pass a drug test for my monthly income.. I could have taken the easy way out and applied for assistance but NO I can't stand to take something for nothing, it's not my RIGHT for assistance. It is my right to buy nice things with an honest days pay!

    I support this special term for free money! GO FLORIDA!!!!

    June 7, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Jess

    Its about time he did something right. Too many people abuse this system. Now lets see how many people cry about it not being fair.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  7. Mrs.G

    This is great news and every state should do it. I work in Family and Community Services and know very well that MANY people NEED help but there are many people who abuse the system and its not fair to everyone else. If jobs are allowed to drug test the people for jobs the government should be able to use more screening to make sure they are handing out everyones money to people who really need it. AMEN!

    June 7, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. King jerry

    It's about damn time! Actually the welfare program needs a major over haul as well why should a person on welfare be able to buy expensive steaks and seafood that alot of taxpayers can't afford, a lot of times we have to buy generic cereals, not them. I know I was on welfare after I lost my job and never ate better in my life no joke.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. joyce

    Kuddos Rick Scott, I hope my state follows this as well. I have to be drug tested and agree to random testing so its only fair. As a fulltime worker I barely make it check to check but yet welfare pays for free food, healthcare, even schooling. I am stuck paying for student loans, my healthcare, and even to support these people who abuses the programs. If you truly need it so be it. What about the people who have it but has a working partner in the house, keeps having more babies while on welfare, having 55 inch flat screens, driving better cars than I am, have a ton of gold on & the best if clothes. Something is def wrong here. Mr. Rick Scott youre doing the right thing.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stephen D.

    The fact this legislation requires "defending" is ludicrous. The welfare system gets abused; bottom line. Florida is protecting tax payer dollars, a move that more states should follow.

    June 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |

    I am very proud of our Governor Rick Scott for taking action and not being intimidated by those who say it's not right.
    IT IS RIGHT and those who want welfare should pay for this test out of their first check IF they pass..
    and if they DON'T PASS..well,I think we know they'll have to pay up front ..let's see how this works.

    Now,if we can just get FOSTER AND ADOPTIVE PARENTS TO DO DRUG TESTING BEFORE they can have a child..
    THEN we would have a safer world,at least here in Florida.

    It's time to roll up our sleeves AND STAND OUR GROUND FOR WHAT IS RIGHT AND WHAT IS GOOD !

    June 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Americaisdead

    Guilty until proven innocent.... What a joke.
    All of you people who want this are stupid... Give an inch, they'll take a mile.... Just remember this warning.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigMomma

      Why do you feel it's so stupid?? We're guilty at work til proven innocent, and they're using OUR money!

      June 7, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Get-It-Right

      How is this a joke? Im a Government employee and have to take drug tests on request. I have nothing to hide and EARN my paycheck, the little test is nothing to me. You act as if THE MAN is invading your personal space. Grow up. If you give a 15 year old $50 for a 2 week period and then he/she comes back to you 3 days later saying they need more money, do you just give it too them or do you ask "where did you spend it and tuff, you can wait the rest of the 2 weeks". It's a simple thing of personal responsibility and accountability. So become an adult and give a better post then Im gonna kick your --. What the hell does your relative being half black have anything to do with welfare? Your a clown
      Oh by the way, Im a Florida Resident, not someone spitting nonsense. I AGREE 100% WITH THIS LAW

      June 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      I don't believe this is suggesting people are guilty ahead of time. This is saying in order to receive aid from tax payers you must meet these basic requirements. High schools have similar policies for athletes, students in clubs and drivers. Furthermore, many jobs require drug testing before hiring and some even have them once you have been hired. Welfare is not meant to be a lifestyle but an aid to families while they are looking for work. If drug testing is already a part of many jobs, why should it be unreasonable to expect the government to have the same policies as many major businesses in the United States. I don't believe this will further the stereotype, if anything it will help refute it as their will be solid data that proves the drugie stereotypes are not true. The only people that should fear this are those that would need to worry about no longer being eligible.

      June 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Darlene

    I SUPPORT Florida's GOVERNOR and his decision. All 50 States should have this. I pay taxes and I sure don't want to support anybody on drugs. Working people have to have drug tests. At Walmart if you have any kind of accident the first thing done is you have to go for a drug test, and someone has to drive you.

    GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT you are to be applauded for your STAND. You ROCK.....Stand your ground.

    I'm in Alabama and I hope our Governor does the same thing.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Thomas

    As a Federal government employee, I undergo drug testing in order to retain my job. A positive test would result in my termination. I see it as a method of ensuring government money (my paycheck) doesn't go towards supporting drug use. So it only makes sense that government money in the form of welfare doesn't go to support drug use.
    I have no problem with them testing me – I have nothing to hide and don't use drugs. I see an real problem with the ACLU having an issue with this (not like anything the ACLU supports/hates really surprises me though). The recipients know they will be tested at some point. You want to keep getting the money, stay clean. You wanna take a chance, you might test positive and lose the money.

    This needs to be in place country wide. Both Florida & Arizona look good to me now. If I found a state with illegal immigration laws and welfare drug-testing laws, I'd find me a job there and MOVE!

    June 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. mario

    I agree with this law but the only think i don't agree with is if you requiring it, people should not have to pay for it unless they test positive. Especially people who are doing good and are on unemployment your asking them to pay extra.

    June 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      @Mario- That is what is says. They do pay for it upfront but are reimbursed in assistance if the test comes back negative.

      June 7, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
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