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June 2nd, 2011
05:31 AM ET

Florida’s gov. wants to drug test welfare recipients– good idea or not?

(CNN) - 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."

Question of the Day: Florida’s governor wants to drug test welfare recipients– good idea or not?

Let us know what you think. We could read your answer on American Morning.

Filed under: AM Asks
soundoff (450 Responses)
  1. Evelyn

    This is an EXCELLENT idea! Not only Florida should have this law, this law should apply all over the US.

    June 7, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  2. Jacky

    As a nurse, I see the addiction problems in FL, and the courts answer when someone gets caught, is mandatory rehab. The problem is, FL mandatory rehab is a 'maintenance' Methadone program. Meaning, they can maintain on Methadone forever, and Medicaid pays for it! They don't taper off of it. So, the entire program needs revamping, but drug testing is a start.I'm all for it.

    June 7, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  3. Scott Craig

    I think we should pass a law allowing the government to go into anybody's house at any time, if they and their children are receiving any financial assistance from the state. They should have to knock first, and if nobody answers, the agents should just go in and look around. The government should also be able to stop any recipient, or government worker, and conduct a full cavity search, to make sure our taxes aren't going to be used for illegal drug consumption. This will definitely save all us taxpaying good law-abiding folk money. Go Governor Scott!

    June 7, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  4. Gary

    Good idea??? No................. fantastic idea. Why hasn't this been done before???

    June 7, 2011 at 10:29 am |
  5. Lisa

    I think it's great! The only thing they didn't say or they left it out. – They are only doing drug testing for those APPLYING For welfare. What about those already on it?
    What they should do is that they should also make welfare conditional; We'll only support you up to 2 years. That should not only get them motivated to get a job but also to stay off drugs. You have to be drug tested to get a job, right?
    JJohnson is right as well. Good idea!

    June 7, 2011 at 9:57 am |
  6. DLeach

    YES! If you are going to get aid then you should have to drug test. Too many welfare/food stamp folks both use and sell drugs to make money to feed drug habits. Many don't but usually where there is smoke....

    June 7, 2011 at 8:42 am |
  7. Dina

    This is not an invasion of privacy. That is like saying my employer requiring my to drug test to get my job was in invasion of privacy. If you don't want to be drug testes, don't apply for welfare. If I want a good job, or you want welfare why should we not have to go through the same requirements?

    June 7, 2011 at 8:36 am |
  8. kim

    I am for it but there is definetley gonna be a higher crime rate..I guess we have to consider that when making a decision.More robbing and stuff to get the stuff they need cause they are to lazy or ignorant to think about going out and trying to get a job..

    June 7, 2011 at 5:38 am |
  9. Ann

    I'm with Melissa. Test everyone who's paid with taxpayer dollars. All congressmen, senators, judges, cops etc. But especially politicians.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
  10. habib

    Do people even read the entire articles anymore?? It says that children still have a chance to receive funds, as long as they choose someone else to receive funds for the kids instead of the one applying. And no, people shouldn't receive benifits if they aren't going to use them for their intended purpose. And just so you all know, I've seen people waste welfare money on buying drugs first hand growing up in the projects. And it's not pretty for the children that suffer because of it.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
  11. Robert

    Why are so many people in a uproar about this ? Do people not realize the drug problem in America ? Do they not realize that more than half the people on welfare, not unemployment are drug addicts ? Or at times have spouse or significant other that is a drug sealer ? The ACLU is voicing how much it will cost tax payers, well how much will it cost us for the ACLU to sue our own Government ? I think the majority of Americans that are on drugs recreational or otherwise need to take a good long inventory at who their really haurting besides their selves families children and loved ones

    June 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
  12. Jennifer

    I do not see how it can be an invasion of privacy if you have the option to apply for assistance . No one is saying that all citizens must submit to testing . Any job that you apply for to work for money you have to pass the drug test So why when you want to receive money without working should being on drugs be okay . What is this Cash assistance than being used for ... to buy drugs ? I myself receive food stamps now that I am on unemployment and would have no problem submitting to a drug test to receive them either . Anyone who has an issues with this in my opinion must have something to hide ! The money that would be saved could go to much better uses or people who will actually do the right thing with it and get back on their feet or possible that knowing you need to be clean to get help will motivate more people to get their lives back in order and get off the drugs . It is one thing to be the one misusing the system but it is another thing to enable people to do so !

    June 6, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
  13. Tommy


    Is it an invasion of MY privacy when my potential employer drug tests me? Or when they run a credit and criminal background check? Or when the use my license to run a driving violation history? Get real.

    June 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  14. John B

    As long as workers like myself have to submit to them, why shouldn't government workers and welfare recipients? I really don't think anyone should have to but it should be the same across the board.

    June 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  15. Mike

    This is not a motivator to find drug abusers. This is simply moderating the abuse of the entitlement system. Entitlements were created to help those not able to work to make a better life for the lower class. If you want to do drugs do them; if that means you can not get a job because you can not pass a drug test why should you be eligible to receive benefits from a government you do dot support. The problems start when people that benefit from entitlements never pay back into them. As a U.S. citizen your agreeing to participate in the welfare of fellow Americans, regardless if this theory is morally correct its the way the country is run. Unfortunately

    June 6, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  16. Cassie F.

    Bob B, if you read more in to this issue, you will find that the applicants have to pay for their own drug test. If they fail, they are not refunded. I completely agree with this, I think anyone applying for benefits should go through testing.

    June 6, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  17. RW

    Keith, how is this a constitutional or privacy issue. They are not just walking into peoples homes and drug testing them at random. These are people who are requesting government funding of their life. If you want to ask the public sector for money the tax payers should be able to with some certainty know that this money is not being wasted. The results are not made public so there is no privacy issue. If they do not want to take the test they can choose not to apply for the funding. I needed to take drug tests to be considered for my job and people requesting public assistance should be held to the same standards.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  18. codyw20

    Let me get this right. It seems most everyone here says well since I have to take one then so should they. Just because you guys can't stand up for you American rights doesn't mean this poor people group shouldn't stand up for theirs. No one should ever be subject to random drug tests and searches. The drug war is destroying this country and all American values with it and killing thousands of innocent people every day. They should in no way allow this testing to happen.

    June 6, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  19. Mike

    This is a great resolution to the entitlement problem this country suffers. Nobodys privacy is being invaded due to the fact that the recieving of benefits from the government is strickly a volunteer effort. Theres nothing to be lost here. Gov.Scott is not cutting off government assitance in anyway. Hes regulating ENTITLEMENTS that are and have been abused for so many years.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  20. Donna

    Just what the state needs – more children in foster care.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  21. Maggy

    I think the state of Florida should take this one step further. If the parents test positive for drugs, the child/children should be removed from the home. Parents who do drugs do not deserve to even be in the presence of their children and their children certainly do not deserve to be raised by them either.

    June 6, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  22. Chris

    Simply put, those of us who do work hard for our money are faced with employers, not the government, that require drug screening for insurance reasons of liability. The employer is simply protecting themselves from any kind of suit that could be filed due to work negligence involving said employees.

    With that said, and to all those of you screaming "Constitutional Rights", keep in mind this isn't just about those who deserve it, yet it has everything to do with those who deserve it. From my point of view, if I found myself in a position where I required government assistance, a drug screening wouldn't put me off or offend me...since it would get me one step closer to receiving the help I would need. Those who simply use it because they can work the system would think twice, especially if their lifestyle includes drugs. Why should the needy be punished for the bad apples...for people who are concerned about Constitutional Rights...what about the rights of families who are legitimately trying to make it, yet need help, however, the free loaders who abuse drugs are taking precedence over them, preventing them from getting assistance. Now who's rights are violated...

    June 6, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  23. george

    The above comments are quite frankly, scary. Here's the reality: most illegal drugs stay in the body a short time, usually no more than a few days. marijuana stays in urine, hair, blood for about a month. Far more workers use marijuana than use other drugs, cocaine, meth, etc. The really destructive drug user can escape detection because of this time lag. The person using marijuana, recognized in @ 15 states as legal medicine, gets caught in the 'drug' test.

    It's stupid, unproductive and I'll bet it benefits this guy Scott's pocketbook from drug testing. It costs money, it generates lawsuits, and it catches the wrong people.

    moreover, testing a person's bodily fluids without committing a crime is a real violation of the 4th amendment, I think the right wing SCOTUS
    has done our country a great disservice

    June 6, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  24. Sue ko

    Good for Mr. Scott. Something needs to be done for using illegal drugs. It is next to the illegal immigration law. If you break the law, punishment should be allowed.
    ILLEGAL means just that

    June 6, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  25. L.C.

    I do not have a problem with the drug testing itself. But I do have a problem subsidizing Rich Scotts drug testing company with taxpayer monies. He is a theif....look at his business history....he is an embarrassment.

    June 6, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • LT

      Exactly right LC. This is Rick Scott's way of paying back his campaign contributors by giving out a multi-million dollar drug-testing contract. We can't afford to keep the schools open, he is raising our utility rates, insurance rates and property taxes, but we have lots of money to drug test??? What?

      June 9, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  26. tammy

    Great Idea!! Finally someone listens to the people!

    June 6, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  27. Concerned in FL

    But the children wont have anyone overseeing them anymore since he is slashing the DFCS budget, and if the children happen to be disabled, well even more difficult to find a good foster overall the plan which starts off with a good idea, will fail. Why cant we have a Governor that takes a concept and actually thinks it through and presents it as a comprehensive plan instead of piece meal ? Oh that might take too much time, when you are trying desperately to present SOMETHING to the Tea party that gets em riled up with self righteousness in hopes it might help your popularity rating which is at the bottom of the oil slick, err Gulf.

    June 6, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • LT

      Especially since Mr. Scott cut the programs for the disabled and blind...

      June 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  28. Katie

    Of course it's the right action to take.

    I am amazed and astounded that maybe maybe just maybe someone with political clout will get this bill passed. Its about time that this type of action is undertaken.

    Every new Job I take requires me to have a new drug test sometimes several times a month this combined with the reminders that 'random' drug tests can occur at any time! This type of behavior is not condoned for us or you – and if you want to receive 'free money' then you need to live by the rules!

    June 6, 2011 at 7:54 am |
  29. Jenny

    I work the government and I have to go through random drug screening all the time. Everyone that gets a check from the government should be drug dont have the right to be supported in anyway for the government if you are doing something illegal. It is not an invasion of privacy, it is protection of assests as fraud, waste, and abuse of government funds is criminal offense. End of story.

    June 6, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  30. Diana Lynn Mollett

    Having worked with a dozen welfare recipients in the last two years,
    most of them are or have been drug abusers.
    And I was surprised to find that all of them smoked cigarettes and all of them had tatoos. And 11 of the 12 have cable TV, which I can't afford.
    Drug testing is way overdue. A year from now, we will be kicking ourselves, saying, "Why didn't we start drug testing sooner?"

    June 6, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  31. GooGooMuck

    Rick Scott has a great idea! It's about time someone was brave enough to do it... This guy has huge gold plated Moolyons. GO FLORIDA! Next try a "work for your check" program!

    June 6, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  32. cody

    I think this is a great idea, and wish that my state of ky would adopted a law similar to this. There needs to be sumthing done with the drug problems and anything that could do that and help taxpayers is very much needed.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  33. KAScofield

    Like it or not, it is indeed unconstitutional no matter how good it sounds, no matter how it appeals to common beliefs about welfare recipients, no matter how it creates a new-old political meme about welfare. Also, it's questionable to make applicants pay for drug testing upfront and get reimbursed later (if they past the test). These are people in need and they're being asked to fork it out in the application process?

    The politician in question may be selling out his interests in the drug testing company or companies, but he may have ties to the industry in other ways, even if it's in a "I'll rub your back if you rub mine" indirect (legal, but immoral) way.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm |

    Now in America, "Guilty until proven innocent if you're poor."
    Next It will be mandatory drug testing to get a drivers license, and just where does this madness stop?
    Will the " yes anything you say" steeple be happy when they force grade school kids to piss in a cup? The United States of America is not becoming a Police state we (ARE) now officially a police state.

    I don't see them saying that they should drug test CEOs to get government hand out like the dirty banksters. and wall street execs that raped the US Tax payers out of trillions. Republicans always say they don't want big Government but yet they always are pushing new draconian fascist laws onto the people.

    June 5, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
  35. Joseph P. Bianco jr.

    Are you kidding ..Now we are going to test grandma when she comes in the door starving and tell her she has to pay for her own drug test...... Awful!!! test only when their is probable cause.....

    June 5, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  36. Jenn

    This law sets a bad precedent. What would you all say if a similar law was then passed for people who receive assistance after a horrible tragedy? I am quite certain if this rule was applied to victims of Joplin or victims of Katrina the nation would be in an uproar. By allowing the government to select the group of people they want to drug test, instead of enforcing it for all groups, we open the door to potential legislative abuse down the line.

    June 5, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  37. D.BROWN

    I think that the drug testing sucks. The way that this situation should of been handled is if someone call in on you saying that you are suspected to be on drugs then they should drug test you and not only the people on government asstiants but anyone. I feel that this is a discrimanation to the less fortunate people. They do not have to be the only ones on drugs some people just need a little help with feeding their children does that make them a drugie because they fail a drug test? Some of them take care of their children better than the ones thats not on drugs. Why dont they test Scott first? And the people think that they should put people children in foster care that isn,t a smart idea because they ones that are in the state custody turn out to be run aways or malested by a foster parent. People wake up and smell the real Air...God Bless America.....

    June 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
  38. MicheleB

    I understand the reasons why taxpayers agree with drug testing welfare recipients. They do not want their hard earned money being wasted. My question is...What about welfare recipients who are spending the money on alcohol, gambling, designer purses, or any other wasteful purchase? We will never be able to guarantee that welfare recipients are using our tax dollars the way that it was intended, so why should we single out one group?

    June 5, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  39. krag

    Lets see we pay for a drug test or keep giving them thousands of dollars to get high. What will happen to the children? hopefully they take them away. I have to pee test to get them their money they should have to test to receive it

    June 5, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  40. Ricki Lee

    You are only getting half the story here. I read the whole artical and basically what it's saying is new reciepents to welfare are to be tested and they have to pay for it. They will get the money back in benifits only if they pass the test. If they don't pass then their benifits will be sent to a responsable party to pay for the kids who are supposed to get the money. It this law was put on a ballot I would vote to pass it. I feel it's only fair to do that. I also feel that all the drug users that are getting SSI and SSDI should have rep-payee's to administer their money and they have to pass a drug test to get any money every month. This may cut down on the amount of people who get money from the government for a substance abuse problem.

    June 5, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  41. Jude

    I so totally agree with the governor of Florida on drug testing. Responsibility should be number one if you are in need of assistance.

    June 5, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
  42. Nag

    I think it is fair for taxpayers money. It should be used for the right cause not for other purposes. It should be extended to all welfare services to reach true beneficiaries.

    June 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
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