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Drug Testing for Welfare Recipients.What are your thoughts on this? Link provided.,0,4216267.story

“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Scott said in a news release. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”

According to legislative analysts, 113,346 people are receiving temporary cash assistance. However, only people 18 and older will be tested, and officials from the Department of Children and Families estimate that will total about 4,400 adults who apply for aid each month.

Officials estimate the initial screenings would cost about $10 per person – refundable if the individual passes – and first-time failures will be disqualified for one year from receiving benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. A second failure disqualifies the individual for three years.

TANF recipients are eligible for cash assistance for a lifetime cumulative total of 48 months, and their eligibility is checked every six months.

Advocates for the poor worry about the cost of the tests – which one DCF official said could go as high as $40 -- and also about the message the new rule sends to people already facing financial problems.

State Rep. Gwen Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, said the new law could hurt families by delaying welfare money they rely upon. And, Clarke-Reed noted, a potential welfare recipient, presumably lacking cash, must pay for their own drug test.

 “How are you going to have money for that?” she asked.

Mitch Ceasar, chairman of the Broward County Democratic Party, said the new law was “very wrong headed” and motivated by political grandstanding. “This is just the governor and the Legislature appealing to their far-right constituency,” he said.

Whether the law passes legal muster isn’t a concern of its authors, he added.

“This Legislature and this extreme governor care less about whether the bill stands up constitutionally,” he said. “They care more about the message they’re sending to their extreme right-wing groups.”

Sid Dinerstein, chairman of the Palm Beach County Republican Party, said the law could have several benefits, including forcing addicts to confront their problem. It would also serve taxpayers.

“If it separates an addict from public assistance then it’s a benefit to everybody, including the children of the addict,” he said. “The thought of us giving tax dollars to someone who has a substance abuse problem is absurd.”

Richard DeNapoli, chairman of the Broward County Republican Party, agreed, saying Scott campaigned for the law. “It was something he promised to implement when he was running for office and he lived up to his promise,” he said.

However, the new law does allow DCF to designate a person to receive funds on behalf of children whose parent fails a drug test. This could include an immediate family member.

Florida’s welfare caseload spiked as the economy tanked and the housing market folded. But it is slowly starting to decline as the state begins to recover. The 52,911 families receiving assistance in May was 6.1 percent below the total 12 months earlier, DCF said.

No other state currently requires drug testing for welfare recipients, but a number of states are considering similar action.

The effectiveness of testing is unknown. A pilot program that tested some welfare recipients between 1999 to 2001 found that there was little difference in employment and earnings between those who tested positive for drug use and those who were clean, according to an evaluation by a Florida State University researcher.

The American Civil Liberties Union has indicated that it may challenge the new law in addition to a number of other bills that the governor has already approved or is likely to sign in the coming weeks. The group is slated to announce action today related to a separate order by Scott that mandates drug-testing of all state employees.

In 1999, Michigan began drug-testing all welfare recipients, prompting the ACLU to sue. In 2003, a federal appeals court ruled that universal testing was unconstitutional, and the ACLU and the state reached an agreement that allowed drug tests of welfare recipients only if there was reasonable suspicion that the person was using drugs.

Howard Simon, the executive director of ACLU of Florida, released a statement saying that the governor was ignoring privacy law and treating people who have lost their jobs “like suspected criminals.”

Simon said that the governor surely was aware of the 2003 a federal court ruling.

“Nevertheless, their zeal to score political points on the backs of Florida poor once again overrode their duty to uphold the Constitution,” Simon said of Scott and his GOP supporters. “Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally and constitutionally unsound policy.”



Asked by Anonymous at 6:13 PM on Jun. 2, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

This question is closed.
Answers (19)
  • On one hand I do not see why it would be a big deal. Most jobs require drug test. But on the other hand I worry about the children of these addicts. If someone is on drugs, then it may discourage them from seeking the assistance that they need to care for their kids. I would hope that it would encourage people to get help, however I know to many parents that put their wants above their children's needs. I would bet that if laws like this passed, we would see an increase in hungry children, people on the streets, domestic and child abuse, increase in suicides, and an increase in drug abuse.

    When people hit rock bottom, it doesn't take much to push them over the edge.

    Answer by daughteroftruth at 9:51 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • If I have to work and pay my taxes as well as random drug testing to keep my job` then Hell yes! Those recieving assistance should be held accountable for random drug testing. If they're honest folks, they won't mind.

    Answer by Kathy675 at 8:12 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • I think its a very smart idea! Help weed out the abusers!

    Answer by mommy_of_two388 at 6:14 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • yes they should be tested... too many people take advantage of the system, we need to weed them out.

    Answer by gwen20 at 6:15 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • I am torn, while I think that drugs are bad, I also think that people have a right to do what they please to their body. Drug addiction is an illness and making them ineligible to receive welfare doesnt take their need for welfare away, nor does it stop their drug addiction. Maybe things should be put in place that make receiving welfare more strict, and say that if you DO test positive for drugs and want to receive assistance, you should have to go to some class/meetings/rehab.

    Answer by ArmyWifeAshlie at 6:18 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

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


    Answer by momavanessa at 6:19 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • You bet---why not?When I have been hired for a new job,Ihave had to take a drug test. Why not for everyone and especially for those on welfare. I hate to think of tax payers' money paying for drugs and alcohol. Its not right. ALcohol and pot do funny things to the brain. Maybe that is why they are on welfare? The pot made them so relaxed they forgot to look for a job. Heh.

    Answer by minnesotanice at 10:50 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • I completely agree with them being tested.

    Answer by onemellowmom at 6:16 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • I like the idea in theory. If they have all the kinks worked out then it will be a good thing. We will have to see how this goes for them!

    Answer by But_Mommie at 6:18 PM on Jun. 2, 2011

  • I don't have a problem with either 100% or random testing for welfare recipients. The general public should NOT be required to help pay for someone else's drug addiction. Ever. Nor should the general public be forced to contribute to child neglect and abuse via their tax dollars paying for someone's drugs while they raise their children in filth, neglect and/or starve them, or harm them while stoned. That is a crock. Test them and take care of the children ~ but tell the adults they can fund their own amusements and do without state aid.

    Answer by Farmlady09 at 12:19 AM on Jun. 3, 2011