Friday, May 06, 2011

Welfare drug test bill lands
on Florida governor's desk

Applying for welfare benefits in Florida? Soon you’ll need to get drug tested.

A measure requiring the tests has passed the Senate and is headed to Gov. Rick Scott, who is likely to sign the bill. He first floated the idea before he even took office and has also authorized random drug testing of state employees.

HB 353 requires all adult recipients of federal cash benefits — the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program — to pay for the tests, which are typically around $35. The screen would be for all controlled substances and applicants would have to disclose any legal prescriptions.

Recipients who test positive for drugs would lose their benefits for a year. If they fail a second time, they lose the benefits for three years. Parents who test positive must designate another adult to receive benefits on behalf of their children.

Read the Miami Herald report here.

It just doesn't seem right to test people and cut off benefits at the same time that the state is reducing the treatment services available.

And then there's the troubling fact that Scott owns a mega-chain of walk-in clinics that do, among other things, drug testing. He proudly claims that he divested his interest in the company when he got elected -- by transferring all his shares to his wife.

Finally, it's likely unconstitutional. Michigan tried it a few years ago, and its testing program was struck down as unconstitutional in a case called Marchwinski v. Howard.

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