Florida Governor Signs Law Requiring Drug Screening for Welfare Applicants

Florida Governor Rick Scott this week signed into law a measure requiring that adults in the state who are applying for welfare assistance undergo drug screening. The law, which takes effect July 1, requires applicants to be responsible for the cost of the screening. They can recover the costs if they qualify for assistance.

Governor Scott said that it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” CNN reports. Under the law, applicants who fail the drug screen can designate another person to receive the benefits on behalf of their children.

After the law was signed, five Florida Democrats from the state’s congressional delegation issued a statement opposing the legislation. One called the law ‘downright unconstitutional,’ while another called the drug screening ‘an extreme and illegal invasion of personal privacy.’

Governor Scott also signed a law on Tuesday that outlaws synthetic drugs known as bath salts. In a statement, the governor said that poison control centers in Florida have reported 61 calls of bath salts abuse, making Florida the state with the second-highest volume of calls.

The powdered stimulants – sold online, in gas stations and drug paraphernalia stores, as bath salts and plant food under names like “Ivory Wave” — are said to produce highs like cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamines.

19 Responses to Florida Governor Signs Law Requiring Drug Screening for Welfare Applicants

  1. vicky | June 2, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    This reinforces the ignorance of the government of Substance Use Disorders. Why doesn’t he add he won’t subsidize mental health disorders or physical impairments? Don’t stop there, let’s add anyone who is aged or who colors outside of the lines too. Maybe he should drag his knuckles forward to the new millennium.

    • victoria | September 29, 2011 at 12:04 am

      You gotta pass a drug test to get a paycheck,
      how about pass one for a welfare check.

      Get clean and get a check.

  2. John Costas | June 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you Governor Scott. If a person needs public assistance then they also need to be tested. I just dont understand how anyone can say this is ‘downright unconstitutional,’ or ‘an extreme and illegal invasion of personal privacy.’ I would not have any reimbursement to the person applying, because I agree that tax payers should not pay for the test. What is unconsitutional and extreme is having our tax payer dollars wasted on a person who uses drugs and has no desire to recover. That in my mind is abusing the system. We have to stop ignoring the drug problem in the US and make people accountable. Drugs is not something to sweep under the rug. Giving drug users money does not help them, their families, thier kids, thier babies or the general public. A person who wants personal privacy can fund their own drug habit and face the consequences.

    • linda vandeveer | June 3, 2011 at 11:51 pm

      yeah !its amazing that a group of people will fight for rights of the unborn while increasing homlessness and poverty for the families that are sick and need social services. sometimes it seems like the group is from some other planet here to destroy America as we know it. they sure aren’t Christians, as some claim.

      • victoria | September 29, 2011 at 12:09 am

        Explain how it is “Christian” to enable someone to continue in drug abuse? How it is “Christian” to allow someone sponge off of others. This does not help the people. Christian is when people are responsible and accountable for their choices and if they “choose” to do better for themselves they are given a hand.

  3. S.R. Wayne | June 2, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    GOOD FOR FLORIDA! By the way dems, how is helping the tax payors unconstitutional? Too many welfare votes?

  4. John Dieter | June 3, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Good move FL. Those kids of drug using parents will get along just fine without food.

  5. Elizabeth | June 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    The law is unconstitutional because it violates the 4th amendment’s prescription against searches (which the Supreme Court has held that drug tests are) without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. The 6th Circuit struck down a similar statute in 2003 on those grounds and this law will likely be invalidated as well. If people who qualify can recover for the cost of the test (which can be as high as $75 per test, not counting administrative costs and re-tests to guard against false positives), this is going to end up costing huge amounts of money–way more than if those who use drugs could get assistance in the first place. This law is just a misguided, ineffective waste of resources that reflects the state’s fundamental ignorance about the nature of addiction and drug use.

    • heidi | July 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm

      Please explain to me how it is unconstitutional to test this group of people but not for me? I need to pass a drug screen to get a job in the construction business. Also, if I get hurt while on the job, the first thing they do is come test me, just in case they don’t have to pay my bills! It’s about time someone places some accountability on welfare recipients. I have my own family members that I would like to see held responsible for taking my hard-earned money every week!

      • Joshua | September 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        it’s not unconstitutional for your boss to test you in the construction business because he’s not the government. the constitution only limits the powers of government. besides owning a slave or transporting alcohol across state borders, there really isn’t anything that a normal citizen can do that violates the constitution.

        • Toni | April 25, 2012 at 11:12 pm

          Yet, if you want to get a government job, you will be drug tested and also randomly drug tested throughout your employment. It is actually the government who came up with the idea of drug testing employees first. So why not drug test recipients of welfare programs. Which by the way, are not run by the government, but by individual states. If Florida has a high number of drug addicts abusing the welfare system, they certainly have the right to try and control it in a manner that they see fit. If you don’t like the outcome, get out and vote to change your politicians. I say “kudos” to Florida. I hope that other states will soon follow!

          • Joshua | February 1, 2013 at 11:35 am

            are you really suggesting that the state government is not bound by the same 4th ammendment protections as the federal government? because you would be wrong.

    • grampawoody | January 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      Your argument using the 4th amendment is invalid as you probably subscribe to gun control unjustified searches of homes with the intent of confiscation without cause.

  6. Johnny MEd, CSAC | June 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Way to go FL!! I hope VA can get the guts to do the same! We see way too many of the addicts in this area take advantage of public assistance…

    • linda vandeveer | June 5, 2011 at 10:03 am

      Its a pretty scarey thing that a substance abuse counselor has this opinion about the sick and needy in our communities.

  7. Ted | June 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    What they don’t tell you is our con-man governor owns the company that will be doing the drug tests(Well he did transfer it to his WIFE’S name) I don’t know these people sleep at night.

  8. Jenelle | June 8, 2011 at 3:16 am

    I feel that if you are going to do this which is an awesome idea, it should be random drug testing. I hope you don’t giv them fair warning when it is going to happen because this is the only way u are going to catch them because thay have things to take and drink to get the stuff out of their system.

  9. Shirley | March 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I agree that no drug addicted person should get taxpayer welfare funds to support their habits and the drug cartel. The law doesn’t go far enough when it states that the addict could have their children’s welfare go to another person. Does he really think the children will get the money? The addict will expect, demand, and do whatever they need to do to get that welfare money.

    Just imagine how much better off our economy would be if our money was circulating in the legitimate businesses and not to the drug cartels!

  10. Toni | April 25, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    The government does not control welfare programs. They are actually controlled by the individual states. Therefore, each state has the right to sanction programs and laws that best benefit their unique circumstances. Many people seem to be worried that this law will put many people out on the streets starving. If there’s that many substance abusers who are abusing the welfare system, maybe this will be a great way for the state to identify them, thus offering substance abuse counseling or programs to help them become productive citizens. Just giving them money so they won’t starve does not cure the problem. As many readers posted, giving them money only enables them to continue their substance abuse. All states should stop enabling people to simply continue to rely on welfare programs. We need to offer programs that help and teach people to become productive citizens and take care of themselves!

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