Welfare drug testing in Florida may be repealed

back in May of this year, Governor Rick Scott and the Florida Senate approved a measure that requires all recipients of the state program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to pass a drug test before receiving benefits. Four months later, and the law has had a very bumpy ride. The criticism has remained vivid and now, the Orlando Sentinal has declared that State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, has filed legislation to repeal the requirement that all welfare applicants first pass a drug test. “It’s the bad economic times that have driven many people to apply for benefits,” Joyner said. “Why should these people who are for the first time in their lives asking for help and most of it temporarily until they can get their jobs back, why should we subject them to having a drug test?” The law has come under attack from several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, which has filed a lawsuit to stop the testing. The cost of the test – roughly $30 – is refunded if the applicant passes and those who fail can’t reapply for at least a year. The Department of Children and Families is still compiling data from its first month and a half of testing, so any conclusive results on whether the policy is effective or not will not be available for several more months. However, a new report from the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative think tank, estimates that the new law will save Florida $9.1 million in the next year. Joyner said if the state wants to test, it should have some sort of reason to test the recipients, such as a prior conviction or history of drug use. What are your thoughts on welfare drug testing? Do you agree or disagree?]]>

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