Drug test law needs to be fair

By Steve Estes

Florida Governor Rick Scott still wants to fight the good fight to force welfare recipients in the state to be drug tested before they can qualify for benefits.

His reasoning is that he doesn’t want state tax money being used for the purchase of illicit drugs and perpetuating the problems caused by that drug use.

A noble sentiment. But extremely short sighted.

We can agree with Scott’s assessment that state tax money shouldn’t be used to fuel the illicit drug market.

However, the early numbers don’t bear out that assessment.

The way the program is designed, applicants pay for a drug test up front, and if they fail they get no benefits. If they pass, however, the state reimburses them the cost for the test and issues the benefits.

To date, the state has paid out way more in reimbursements than it has saved in lost benefits, in fact the percentage of applicants losing benefits because they either wouldn’t take the test or failed the test is in single digits…very low single digits.

Scott continues to maintain that it’s not the benefits that are the issue but the use of every tool available to fight illicit drug use in the state.


If that’s really the case, and this is simply not another attempt by the uber-rich Governor and his cronies to further compound the economic woes of a class of people already devastated by unemployment and a sluggish economy, then we suggest that the testing program be expanded to every single person who receives a state paycheck issued from the state treasury.

Yep, that includes every Congressman, every staffer for those Congressmen, every Gubernatorial appointment, every staff member of those appointees, and yes, the Governor himself.

Scott was offered a cup for a drug test by a national comedy show months ago and refused the offer.

This entire program would be more palatable to the more centrist among us if it actually went far enough to be of some use.

Cutting off the testing criteria at those who need state help to survive and ignoring those who milk our money on a daily basis and get nothing of import done seems just a little bit—well skewed.

We would be happy, even though we don’t draw state money, to stand in line next to the State Representatives and State Senators, even the Governor himself, and deposit testing fluid in a plastic cup.

But as usual, the rules for the lower classes don’t apply at all to the upper echelons of state government.

There is very little evidence based on the results of this program that drug use is confined to those people who need state aid to survive. If the problem is that serious, and we don’t doubt that it is, it must be exacerbated by those earning significantly more than minimum wage that are partaking of illicit drugs.

And to test these folks would make this a fair program.

That’s all any of us ask for—something fair across the board.

Put the elected officials in line with the welfare applicants and we’ll go stand in that line, too.

Until that happens, we can only laugh at the folly of this program and must say that we are very proud our judges saw fit to toss the program on its ear in the early going of legal battles sure to come as a result of the passage of such an asinine law.

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