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Welfare Recipients Have To Pay Out of Pocket For Mandatory Drug Tests In Florida

Welfare Recipients Have To Pay Out of Pocket For Mandatory Drug Tests In Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott may have handed over his interest in a medical company that would benefit from mandatory drug testing of welfare recipients (and by hand over, I mean give the shares to his wife), but that didn’t stop him from approving a bill forcing the poor to prove they aren’t on drugs to get welfare benefits.

CNN.com reports:

Saying it is “unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday signed legislation requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening.

“It’s the right thing for taxpayers,” Scott said after signing the measure. “It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.”

Scott was previously a shareholder in a company that specializes in drug testing, before turning the shares over to his wife, instead.  He more recently sold the stock, before singing the bill into law, and has pledged that the company will not vie for state government contracts.

There were two large issues with the proposal to test all welfare recipients.  First that mandatory drug testing is a violation of privacy and civil rights, and secondly, that mandatory testing is expensive, potentially costing the state more money than it would save.

Scott thinks he found a way to deal with the second issue — charge the people requesting benefits for their own testing.  If they pass, they get reimbursed. 

Yes, Governor Scott wants the poor to pay money in order to get welfare.  Apparently you now have to put out a downpayment for government assistance.

Even with the “money back” process, mandatory drug testing is of course highly unconstitutional, and the ACLU is already taking action to sue, saying it violates the fourth amendment.

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photo from By State of Florida (http://www.flgov.com/) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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216 comments

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10:34PM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

Martha E: What we used to be is a country where everyone pulled their own weight. Now it's become a country where everyone wants a handout. Plenty of people on welfare have no business being on welfare. If a woman gets pregnant with a child she knows she cannot afford, that is HER fault. She is not a poor victim of circumstance. People need to take responsibility for themselves or suffer the consequences.

3:08PM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

If people are not using drugs and genuinely need help, I don't think they would oppose taking a drug test.

6:04AM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

DON I: Also I HOPE YOUR state breaks off and floats away say to "communist China!"

6:01AM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

To DON I.: So you are yet ANOTHER IGNORANT whom actually thinks POOR folks are tax EXEMPT huh? WOW! No wonder our country is so messed up! EVERY person in THIS country PAYS taxes working or NOT! you pay taxes on your rent monthly/mortgage loan and you property, on your car, insurance, non-food items etc. for LIFE my dear IGNORANT fellow American! ABOLISH the IRS! OUR taxes are NOT being used for what they are SUPPOSED to be used for!

5:52AM PDT on Aug 27, 2011

Oh yeah that $138.00 a month will pay their bills, rent/mortgage, insurance, food etc. they think that amount will support a month's drug habit??? That $138.00 a month would supply a drug user for about a day! The IGNORANT keep breeding their Insanity genes! They just WANT OUR tax dollars for THEIR agenda ( their bankster/ corporate oil ( subsidized), nuclear ( subsidized) they are ROBBERS)! They will do anything, because they know the IGNORANT will follow suit, as they ALWAYS have. Hence: How we came to be here!!!!!! ABOLISH the FED/IRS !!!!

10:56AM PDT on Aug 9, 2011

the state giveth and taketh away.

8:06AM PDT on Jul 30, 2011

The voting astounded me. I knew there would be some intolerant to vote "yes", but 35%?! It continues -- ignorant people who think they know why poor people are poor. I can hear the same old arguments that it's their fault. Most "poor" are that way through a myriad of circumstances that they have very little control over, and it becomes a cycle. It's much easier to make good if you have some money to start with. And these days, there are "middle class" who have joined the ranks of the traditionally poor, because of job loss, housing loss. There is only so much "pulling one up by one's bootstraps" that can be done. We're all in this together, folks. We used to be a nation who knew that, who helped one another. "Assuming" drug use and having an already poor person pay to satisfy the state's curiosity, is obscene. Not a week goes by, that I don't hear some outrage from the FL governor. The worst governor in the U.S., and I'm from Texas where ours is running a close second.

1:58AM PDT on Jul 12, 2011

I can't believe the comments being made by most of the people who are against testing welfare recipients for drug usage before authorizing them to recieve the benefits. Doing so is NOT going to stigmatize or degrade anyone that expects to recieve benefits being paid for by other peoples tax dollars. If a person has enough money to support a drug habit, and they choose to use their money for that purpose, they shouldn't be eligable to receive any form of government assistance. Requiring potential welfare recipients to take a drug test certainly is NOT against anybodies Constitutional Rights. Like any other law that requires people to give personal information, or take drug or alcohol testing, there would be no violation of a persons rights to require drug testing for this purpose also. As with taking a mandatory sobriety test if you are believed to have been driving under the influence, the person applying for welfare assistance, has the same choices available to them. They can take the test and receive the benefits if the pass , or they can refuse the test and have no chance of receiving any benefits. I can tell you there is pressure in other States to pass the same type of laws. I really hope my State is going to be one of them.

6:25AM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

I live in Florida, and despite the controvery Gov. Scott has caused, most of the people I know think this is a good idea. It isn't just that welfare recipients are possibly using the money to buy drugs, it's also that they are not working or looking for jobs if they are too busy doing drugs. I am saddened by the lack of accountability many seem to have today...once we were a great nation and took care of ourselves, instead of this childlike entitlement mentality that is proliferating...I know a young man who plays on the computer all day while his mom pays his bills, and the first thing he did upon moving to Florida was to sign up for food stamps. He has said that doesn't want to work. I know a young woman who 'accidentally' found herself pregnant and her comment was, "Oh well, I guess I better go sign up for my benefits," since the father didn't want to be responsible and she didn't want to work full-time. And there is still the culture of getting more welfare for having more illegitimate babies. I do not have an answer, but our status as a nation of opportunity has been dumbed down to a nation of 'give me what I don't feel like earning'.

10:39PM PDT on Jun 17, 2011

Maarja, not a bad idea, BUT how would you suggest testing everyone be done, and why would the government have any reason to test EVERYONE? The point here is that the ones being tested are receiving PUBLIC funding. If you, as a private citizen are paid by any other employer, then it's your employer's right to test you (or not), but not the government's responsibility. If you (or I or anyone else) is stopped for a traffic infraction, it's the right of the cop to give you a sobriety test and that's law. You DO have the right to refuse, and if you do, you can be arrested and taken to the precinct for whatever amount of time. If you are pulled over and NOT drinking, then why would you object? On that note, however, there HAVE been occasions where people were NOT drinking and flunked because of other issues, such as diabetic "meds" or even not having enough balance, but if they "blow" into the thingey, shouldn't be an issue.

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