by Lone SharkIn a move that absolutely reeks of common sense and likely will reverberate across the country, Governor Rick Scott signed a law mandating that welfare recipients statewide submit to a full drug screening panel in order to receive ‘cash-money’ benefits from the state. Scott believes that this law will curtail abuse of the welfare system by those who use the disbursements as a way to subsidize their recreational drug use.
“The goal of this is to make sure we don’t waste taxpayers’ money.” – Governor Rick Scott
The new law, which takes effect July 1, will mean about 4,400 drug tests per month, according to the Department of Children and Families. Taxpayers will reimburse welfare applicants for negative drug tests, which can cost $10 to $25. Positive tests will carry an immediate six-month ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. A second positive test will result in a three-year ban on state assistance. Other details in HB 353:
• The Department of Children and Families must inform applicants that they can avoid a drug test if they do not apply for benefits.• The state must assure each applicant “a reasonable degree of dignity while producing and submitting a sample.”
• Parents who fail drug tests can get benefits for their children by naming a state-approved designee to collect the money. That designee must also pass a drug test.
Predictably, the ACLU is protesting Scott’s decision, calling it an “invasion of privacy”:
“The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn, as well as their families, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse.” -Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.
Simon’s claim is laughable on its face, as we are all aware of the fact that many different jobs require mandatory drug and alcohol testing as a precondition and an ongoing requirement to both obtain and maintain employment. Similarly, welfare recipients are being compensated by the state, although no work is required of welfare recipients. It’s right for the state to take measures to ensure that welfare monies are not being spent improperly by its recipients- welfare money should go towards genuine necessities, nothing more. Look for other states to follow Governor Scott’s lead and draft their own laws that address the misuse of taxpayer monies by welfare recipients.