Florida Law Punishes Poor People for Being Poor

During this legislative session, more than two dozen states have introduced legislation to drug test individuals receiving or applying for various forms of public assistance. And by public assistance I mean individuals applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), welfare, unemployment and Medicare. (Incidentally, you know who isn't being asked to submit to drug testing before receiving public assistance? Bankers, traders and anyone who received money from the bailout.)

Thankfully, most of these bills have failed, but the most pernicious of them has passed in Florida and is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott's signature. Florida's bill goes so far as to make people applying for public assistance, who have very limited means, pay for the cost of their drug test. If the individual's drug test comes back negative, the state will then reimburse individuals for the cost of the test. If the drug test comes back positive, Florida will not provide drug treatment, it will merely make the applicant ineligible to reapply for TANF for a year.

The process is costly (Maddow reports it could cost the state anywhere from $1 million and $8 million), bureaucratic and simply demeaning to Florida residents. It is also unconstitutional. Michigan is the only state to have attempted to drug test welfare recipients — a policy that was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional in 2003. Of course, none of this will stop Gov. Scott, who campaigned on this issue and has begun blanket drug-testing of state employees, from signing the bill into law.

Last week, Rachel Maddow explained the utter absurdity of Florida's new law in a manner much more eloquently than I ever could. Take a look:

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Anonymous

I dont see how this is punishment; I get drung tested at my job to recieve a check. If you have money for drugs, you have money for food

CitizenX

I'm wondering how a state can attach such obviously racist conditions to the distribution of Federal Aid Programs.

Experianced

its bad enough the limitations dcf establishes
& demands the require. I was on it as a family of 4 just to recieve $198 a month. So explain how you can pay rent, electricity, water, phone & ect. It didnt work out for us so we quit it. They want you to waste 88hrs for one person & the other makes up the slack out of 130 a month (depending on if you recieve 4C you do extra hrs) volunteering instead of helping you job search. Its already Ridiculus system. They try their hardest to discourage ppl into applying for it. They might as well just cancel the whole TANF or take over family bills themselves...but then how would you get toiletries? If youve never had to tie a bag on your toddler for lack of diapers or stuff your panties with paper during your time of the month, then God bless you because youve never hit bottem. And what good is it to have foodstamps when you don have electricity to cook or even store your food, god bless those that can afford the doller menu. & aside from making broke milies front test money, what if one parent or family member fails? Does everyone suffer?? I think this is simular to the forced sterilation of families having babies under medicaid. Its sameful what government does to "save" a couple dollars. Focus on a REAL job placement program. Everyone says go to school but they dont guarentee placement so now you owe more money you dont have..........i cant rant & rave all day. FL is BS for lack of truer words

Anonymous

dumb ass...:if you have money for drugs, you have money for food" are you ignorant or a person that is not educated?

Anonymous

Does this mean that all elderly persons receiving medicare will have to be tested for drugs?

John B

Hooray for Florida!!

John B

Hooray for Florida!!

Anonymous

I am wondering how you can wonder "how a state can attach such obviously racist conditions to the distribution of Federal Aid Programs" without implying that minorities use drugs... and receive public assistance...

Drugs are ILLEGAL, and their use should not be subsidized by the taxpayer.

Anonymous

I am wondering how you can wonder "how a state can attach such obviously racist conditions to the distribution of Federal Aid Programs" without implying that minorities use drugs... and receive public assistance...

Drugs are ILLEGAL, and their use should not be subsidized by the taxpayer.

Anonymous

Some people need more than those who receive more. People should be tested to see how much they really need and get an estimated amount. It's not hard to just take a test if you want government beneficial. Better than no money at all, geez.

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