Fla. lawmakers require drug tests for welfare recipients

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, May 6, 2011 11:20 EDT
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A bill that would require all Florida welfare recipients to pass a drug test is on its way to the governor’s mansion, where it is expected to be signed into law immediately.

Fla. lawmakers passed the bill Thursday, buoyed by strong support from Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott, who’s called it one of his “top priorities” as governor.

The legislation would also require welfare applicants to pay for their own drug tests. Urine analysis screenings can cost between $30-$80. Around 60,000 people would be affected, according to earlier reports.

The state said it will reimburse welfare recipients who pass the tests, but a failure will disqualify them for benefits for up to a year. A second failure will disqualify them for up to three years.

An earlier executive order signed by Gov. Scott mandated quarterly drug screenings for all state employees, with random screenings throughout.

Critics of random drug screenings say they tend to encourage use of substances that flush through the bloodstream quickly — like cocaine or heroin — as opposed to safer alternatives like marijuana that remains detectable for two weeks or longer.

Scott said the legislation “creates another reason why people will think again before using drugs,” The Miami Herald reported.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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