Last week, Florida Governor
Ed Harris Rick Scott, signed a bill into law which is going to require all adults applying for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families(TANF) to submit to a drug test prior to receiving their benefits. The drug test is paid for out of pocket by the applicant…if they pass, the money if refunded in their benefit check. If they fail? No soup for you.
Now…this is the kind of thing that real people, at least the crazy ones I work with, have been talking about for YEARS…so I really have no problem with the act of drug testing people to receive state benefits. Yes, as someone who is okay with the legalization/de-criminalization of most drugs, this might make me a bit of a hypocrite…but, these drugs ARE still illegal. Once these drugs are legalized, we can revisit my opinion on this issue.
Because everything we do is ‘for the children’ if a parent does fail a drug test, they can designate another person to receive the benefits on behalf of their children. Being a cynic, I fear that this means that someone will pocket 25% of the benefit as a carriers fee, and then the other 75% will still get spent the way it would have anyway…and that most likely, this new law will change nothing, other than making us crazy, real people feel like we have accomplished something.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is pleased with this new law.
"Governor Scott's new drug testing law is not only an affront to families in need and detrimental to our nation's ongoing economic recovery, it is downright unconstitutional," said Rep. Alcee Hastings. "If Governor Scott wants to drug test recipients of TANF benefits, where does he draw the line? Are families receiving Medicaid, state emergency relief, or educational grants and loans next?"
Ummm…as for the last sentence…yes please! Totally okay with testing all the folks in those different categories, except for maybe the emergency relief one. If a tornado destroys my house, a little toke on some MJ to calm my nerves is going to be the last thing I am worried about.
As far as the unconstitutional part of things…as long as this data is not used to open/pursue criminal cases, I see nothing unconstitutional about it.
Finally, there is something in the last paragraph of the article that concerns me a bit.
Controversy over the measure was heightened by Scott's past association with a company he co-founded that operates walk-in urgent care clinics in Florida and counts drug screening among the services it provides.
If this new law ends up funneling money into the pockets of a company that was in-fact co-founded by the Governor, that is a pretty severe conflict of interest, and is exactly the kind of thing that the media should be looking into.