Democratic senator urges Scott to drop drug-testing court fightby John Kennedy | October 24th, 2011
A federal judge Monday temporarily halted drug-testing of Florida welfare recipients, siding with opponents of the new law championed by Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature.
U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven said the testing requirement amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure, chiding state lawmakers for ignoring an “overwhelming body of case law,” when they approved the measure last spring.
The legal challenge was brought by the ACLU of Florida and the Florida Justice Institute, which hailed the judge’s decision.
Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, said Scott and state officials should just abandon efforts to defend the drug-testing policy for applicants for benefits under the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
“Not only is the new law a punishment for being poor, it’s a waste of tax dollars; the overwhelmingly majority of TANF applicants test negative,” Joyner said. “Now, taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars to reimburse these families for a test that exclusively benefits the drug testing industry.”
Since Florida’s new law testing welfare recipients took effect July 1, 7,030 passed, 32 failed and 1,597 did not provide results, according to Florida Department of Children and Families records.
The only other state to implement a similar drug-testing policy, Michigan, had its drug-testing law overturned in 2003 by a federal court.