[UPDATE] 5-31 2:40pm -
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Individuals receiving temporary cash assistance from the state will have to pass a drug test to get their benefits under a measure signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott. The controversial measure (HB 353) would require Temporary Assistance to Needy Families recipients to pay for drug tests beginning July 1. Recipients who pass the test would be reimbursed the cost of which could run from $10 to $70, depending on whose counting. Lauded by backers who say the bill will help ensure that tax dollars aren’t spent buying illegal drugs, the measure passed over the objections of critics who say the incidence of drug use are not significantly higher among TANF recipients. The tests, they argue, are in essence suspicion-less searches and therefore illegal under state and federal constitutions. Scott, who signed the bill in Panama City Tuesday morning, has said the new law protects taxpayers’ interests while providing temporary benefits to those in need. “Requiring those who apply for public assistance to pass a drug test before receiving benefits will help prevent Florida’s tax dollars from subsidizing drug addiction,” Scott said in a statement.
Tallahassee, Florida - May 31, 2011 -
Panama City, Fla. – In keeping his promise to require drug screening for welfare recipients, Governor Rick Scott today signed House Bill 353, which requires adults applying for temporary cash assistance to undergo drug screening.
The bill is designed to increase personal accountability and prevent Florida’s tax dollars from subsidizing drug addiction, while still providing for needy children. Parents failing the required drug test may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of the children.
“While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction,” Governor Scott said. “This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.”
In addition, Governor Scott also signed House Bill 1039, which makes “bath salts” a Schedule 1 controlled substance, considered in Florida to have no medical value or usage. The chemical substances found in “bath salts” constitute a significant threat to health and public safety. Poison control centers in Florida have reported 61 calls of “bath salts” abuse, making Florida the state with the second-highest volume of calls. The hallucinogenic substances are readily available at convenience stores, discount tobacco outlets, gas stations, pawnshops, tattoo parlors, and truck stops, among other locations.