New Legislation Would End Florida's Drug Testing Policy

A Florida lawmaker has introduced a bill that would end the state's policy of drug testing recipients of temporary government assistance.
by | September 21, 2011

Recipients of temporary government assistance in Florida must currently submit to a drug test before receiving benefits, but a state senator has filed a bill that would end what she calls a costly and unnecessary policy.

In a press release, Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner blames the Republican majority for passing a bill last year that requires beneficiaries of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to take a drug test, regardless of their history. Under the new program, if a recipient passes the test, state taxpayers must pick up the refund.

That's about $30 to $35 per test, according to POLITICO.

"This is Big Brother at its worst," Joyner said in a statement. Only two percent of those tested so far have come back positive, according to Joyner's office.

The legislation was also unnecessary, Joyner's office said, as federal law allows states to opt out of providing TANF assistance to those convicted of felony-level drug possession, use or distribution. Florida, however, never agreed to that provision.

The ACLU has already challenged the state's drug test mandate, POLITICO reports. Its lawsuit alleges the policy violates residents' protection against unreasonable search and seizure.


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