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Drug screen for welfare benefits goes into effect in Florida

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 5th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Declaring it "unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction," Governor Rick Scott has signed legislation requiring adults applying for welfare assistance to undergo drug screening. The law has recently gone into effect.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "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."

Henceforth, the Florida Department of Children and Family Services will be required to conduct the drug tests on adults applying to the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

In addition -- the aid recipients are responsible for the cost of the screening, which they would recoup in their assistance if they qualify.

There is a loophole: Those who fail the required drug testing may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of their children.

Five Democrats from Florida's congressional delegation issued a joint statement attacking the legislation, one calling it "downright unconstitutional."

In addition, the ACLU has filed suit against the state for requiring all state workers to take a drug test and is considering suing the state for drug-testing welfare applicants.

Florida is not the first state to pass such legislation. Michigan passed a similar law that the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals found unconstitutional in 2003 since it violated the U.S. Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable search.

The court said the law would set a dangerous precedent by allowing the government to conduct drug searches for the safety of the public without prior suspicion.

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