Florida could be setting a precedent on what seems to be a controversial issue, drug testing welfare recipients.
Governor Rick Scott just signed a law requiring Floridians to submit urine, blood, or hair samples for drug tests before they receive any aid from their state. If they test positive, the recipient will not receive cash aid for six months. Their children can still secure assistance from the state through a designated person as long as the person passes the drug test. In the result of a second positive test, there will be a three-year ban on state assistance, according to the Miami Herald.
“The goal of this is to make sure we don’t waste taxpayers money,” Scott says. “[It is to be hoped that] more people will focus on not using illegal drugs.”
The law will go into effect on July 1st. 4,400 drug tests will then be given per month as a result according to the Department of Children & Families. Welfare applicants who receive negative drug tests results will be reimbursed the cost of the tests, about $10-$25 by taxpayers.
Around 233,000 Floridians have applied for cash assistance from their state in 2009-10, which includes 114,000 families, according to statistics done by the Department of Children & Families. For this month, 93,170 Floridians received cash assistance. 93,170 is actually a drop of 8.3 percent from a year ago.
But the law might not last that long. The Florida ACLU has already filed a lawsuit saying the law violates the fourth amendment rights of the welfare recipients’. “It’s not even random drug testing,” one of the officials says. “It’s drug testing of all people who apply for public assistance and you can’t do that without suspicion of something.”
Florida will be the only state that requires welfare recipients to be drug tested.