-- 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."
Under the law, which takes effect on July 1, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The aid recipients would be responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify. Those who fail the required drug testing may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of their children.
Shortly after the bill was signed, five Democrats from the state's congressional delegation issued a joint statement attacking the legislation, one calling it "downright unconstitutional."
"Governor Scott's new drug testing law is not only an affront to families in need and detrimental to our nation's ongoing economic recovery, it is downright unconstitutional," said Rep. Alcee Hastings. "If Governor Scott wants to drug test recipients of TANF benefits, where does he draw the line? Are families receiving Medicaid, state emergency relief, or educational grants and loans next?"
Rep. Corrine Brown said the tests "represent an extreme and illegal invasion of personal privacy."
"Indeed, investigating people when there is probable cause to suspect they are abusing drugs is one thing," Brown said in the joint statement. "But these tests amount to strip searching our state's most vulnerable residents merely because they rely on the government for financial support during these difficult economic times."