Florida Governor Rick Scott signs bill requiring drug testing for TANF recipients

A new law requiring drug testing for welfare recipients in Florida has been signed this last Tuesday, May 31st, 2011. While some will hail Governor Rick Scott signing a bill requiring Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) applicants to pass a drug screen, there are still plenty of voices of opposition to the measure. Scott says the legislation is “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.”

But, according to a CNN report, detractors of the new Florida law not only call the measure an unconstitutional requirement that is equal to a “strip search,” and an invasion of privacy, they also point out a possible conflict of interest, since Governor Rick Scott co-founded a company operating walk-in urgent care clinics, which include drug testing among the services offered.

Last April, Scott transferred his interests in Solantic Corporation over to his wife. But that can hardly be called a degree of separation. In all fairness, it should be pointed out that on May 18th, the Florida Ethics Commission ruled there was no “prohibited conflict of interest” on the matter.

Is the new Florida law the proverbial “slippery slope?” Exactly where does this requirement stop? Today, it’s a requirement for those applying to TANF benefits, whether their financial situation was brought on by drug usage or not.

“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. 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?” asks representative Alcee Hastings.

Everyone can certainly agree on the concept of testing those with a reasonable suspicion of drug abuse. But this measure works under the assumption that all applicants are presumed suspected drug abusers. Opponents may ask themselves, “Whatever happened to the Fourth Amendment?” Defenders of the bill can easily point out if someone is asking for financial assistance from the Florida government, it should be on Florida’s terms. In a statement about the new law, Governor Rick Scott was quoted as saying “It is unfair to Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction.”

As for whether it’s fair for “taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” will there also be standards for those who drink alcohol? Alcohol is also a drug, with life-wrecking capacity. If someone has brought their life to failure due to alcoholism, will they also need to find a representative payee, as well? Or, is booze okay with Governor Scott, as is so often the case with bureaucrat hypocrisy? Where do you stand on this issue?

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