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Florida governor Rick Scott is going ahead as planned with his requirement that Florida citizens on welfare must be drug tested. Beginning July 1st, anyone applying for welfare must undergo a mandatory drug test according to the new law signed by the governor last week. Despite the immediate backlash and critics pointing out that Scott stands to benefit financially from this new mandate, Scott is defending his new law.
The Florida governor says people who receive state benefits should be drug free. “While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Scott said in a statement released after he signed the bill during a visit to Panama City.
He says drug testing welfare recipients is no different than an employer drug testing their employees. “They’re just saying in that work environment they don’t want you to use drugs. In this case we do not want to subsidize drug addiction. We want to give everybody an increased incentive not to use drugs. It is better for our families and for the individual and it doesn’t waste taxpayer money,” Scott stated. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”
Yeah, well what about politicians? When are we going to start drug testing them? No, let Governor Christie of New Jersey continue to “misuse tax dollars” with no accountability.
Under the new law, welfare recipients are required to pay for their own drug screening. If they pass, their money will be refunded. Of course, drug screening is extremely expensive and whether any welfare recipient has that sort of money is unclear. Recipients who test positive for drugs will face a one year ban from public assistance. Assistance like drug rehabilitation, perhaps? Two time violators will face a three year ban. In two-parent households, both adults would be tested. Benefits could still be awarded to children but under a third-party recipient who also must pass a drug screen. Poor Florida children.
The law is expected to be quickly challenged. The Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a release criticizing the law and noting that a previous attempt to test welfare recipients for drugs in Michigan was ruled unconstitutional in 1999. Not to mention, costly and ineffective. “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.”
Another problem with the drug testing law is a questionable conflict of interest. Solantic, Scott’s own company, stands to benefit from the new law. Scott handed over his health care business to his wife before he took office. But, that doesn’t really distance him too far from the profits the company would likely see with the new drug testing order. Among the services that Solantic offer? Drug testing. Many Democrats and the media have questioned the conflict of interest. The governor’s office dismisses ethics questions without elaborating. The real question is whether Scott became governor simply to add to his already enormous wealth.