As of July 1, 2011 the new Florida State Law HB 353 signed by Governor Rick Scott on May 31, 2011 will go into effect. HB 353 requires all adult recipients of federal benefits (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) to pay for drug test which will screen for all illegal substances at their own expense. If applicants pass the drug test, the cost of the test is reimbursed. If applicants fail the drug test, they will be unable to receive benefits for up to one year. If they fail a second time, they will be unable to receive benefits for up to three years from the state of Florida.
The majority of welfare recipients are single mothers, therefore to protect the children of single mothers, if a single mother (considered head of household) tests positive, a third party has the opportunity to accept benefits on behalf of the children so they continue receiving benefits. However, the third party must also obtain and pass a drug test.
Governor Rick Scott says, “It’s fair to taxpayers. They’re paying the bill. And they’re often drug-screened for their jobs. On top of that, it’s good for families. It creates another reason why people will think again before using drugs, which, as you know, is just a significant issue in our state.”
Studies show that welfare recipients are no more likely to use drugs than the general population. The ACLU, American Civil Liberties Union, found that 70% of all illicit drug users between the ages of 18 and 49 are employed full-time. The ACLU also argues that this is a violation of invasion of privacy laws. In addition, Scott’s motives are under suspicion since he co-founded Solantic, a company which happens to provide drug testing services.
What do you think about the new law? Was this a necessary action? Tell us what you think by commenting below!