Florida Governor Rick Scott’s campaign promise of drug testing welfare recipients is currently on hold. Federal Judge Mary Scriven ordered an injunction effective yesterday after hearing testimony from a 35 year-old single father from Florida who argued the new law violated his 4th amendment rights.
Scriven said she found it “troubling” that the medical records were not kept confidential under the HIPPA guidelines. The injunction will stay in place until a full hearing is held on the matter. “This potential interception of positive drug tests by law enforcement implicates a `far more substantial’ invasion of privacy than in ordinary civil drug testing cases,” said Scriven, who was appointed by President George W. Bush.
“Scott’s program is a discriminatory overreach of government power that constitutes an unreasonable search on people who have done nothing wrong other than finding themselves needing temporary assistance…. now a Federal court has told him so. Regardless of how this proceeds, the real question Floridians should be asking Gov. Scott and his enablers in the Legislature is “How is this supposed to create good jobs and alleviate unemployment?” It won’t,” said Ray Seaman who is the Online Director for Progress Florida.
“While I support the fundamentals of the concept,” James Martire of Tampa Bay Tea Party Patriots commented, “Follow the money. Solantic will be doing a large part of the drug testing which Scott was the CEO.” Proponents of the law cite Scott’s claims during his campaign the measure would save $77 million. It’s unclear how he arrived at those figures.
“Drug testing welfare recipients is just a common-sense way to ensure that welfare dollars are used to help children and get parents back to work,” said Jackie Schutz, a spokeswoman for Scott. “The governor obviously disagrees with the decision and he will evaluate his options regarding when to appeal.”
“This is just the latest in a pattern of social experiments attempting to redefine the United States Constitution and American values to fit their extreme ideological agenda.” Monroe County Democratic State Committeeman Ian Whitney stated while expressing concern over the Republican controlled Florida legislature. “I’m glad that the courts are catching on, and hope that this is a first step in overturning these unconstitutional laws. I hope that this year’s voter suppression act is next.” Whitney is referring to the recent voter registration overhauls by the Florida legislative last session.
Applicants must pay $25 to $35 for the test and are reimbursed by the state if they pass. It’s unclear if the state has saved money. The majority of positive drug screens came from marijuana
Patrick Waite of Bradenton argued, “Who is to say one doesn’t have a valid prescription for a broken knee three months ago yet this person would be able to spend every last dime of the (TANF) money on illegal drugs yet still pass because of the bureaucracy? Plain and simple this is bureaucracy at its best, someone could go out all night at the bar and drink themselves to death while leaving the child unattended at home, continue to buy illegal pills off the street since the test doesn’t show the amount taken just that it was. Yet a few puffs of pot and you’re not eligible?”
This is the first time a State has implemented such a program since Michigan’s random drug testing program for welfare recipients. It lasted five weeks in 1999 before it was halted by a judge, similar to Florida’s current situation. Followed by a four year long court battle that ended with the Michigan law unconstitutional on the same premises that Judge Scriven cited for Florida.