Florida Gov. Rick Scott signs law requiring welfare recipients to take drug test, ACLU objects
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 11:36 AM
SERGEY PONOMAREV/APFlorida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill on Tuesday that would require welfare recipients to take a mandatory drug test.
If Floridians want welfare, they better make sure they are drug-free.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill on Tuesday that requires benefit recipients to undergo drug testing.
Applicants for the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program who test positive for illicit substances won’t be eligible for the funds for a year, or until they undergo treatment.
Those who fail a second time would be banned from receiving the funds for three years.
“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Scott said. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”
If welfare candidates pass the drug screening, they’ll be reimbursed for the test.
The legislation instantly came under a barrage of criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and several of the Sunshine State’s Democrats. They argued the bill is 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,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida.
“Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound policy. Today, that unsound policy is Florida law.”
The law, which will be enacted July 1, is likely to be challenged. A similar bill was ruled unconstitutional by a federal court in Michigan in 2003.
Source: Will County News