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Scott’s legal team comes to defense of state worker drug testing bill

by Dara Kam | February 24th, 2012

State Rep. Jimmie Smith isn’t an attorney, as House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders pointed out during an “I’m-a-lawyer-and-you’re-not” debate over Smith’s bill that would require random drug testing of all state employees. In fact, Smith, R-Inverness, has a G.E.D.

But Gov. Rick Scott’s crack legal team has come to Smith’s defense on the controversial measure, similar to an executive order issued by Scott last year and argued in federal court on Wednesday. The ACLU and the union representing government workers sued Scott over the drug tests, and he backed away from his “pee in a cup” policy, limiting the drug tests to Department of Corrections workers.

Scott’s office provided a legal analysis for Smith, which he distributed to members of the House State Affairs Committee Friday morning before the panel approved the bill (HB 1205) by a 9-6 vote.

The 13-page memo, written by Scott’s deputy general counsel and Harvard Law School graduate Jesse Panuccio, outlines the legal arguments Panuccio made in the federal court case defending the drug testing, and refers to several cases in which courts ruled that drug testing government employees was acceptable.

Smith referred to the Scott’s packet several times during question-and-answer period and held his own against Democrats, who insisted the random, suspicionless, drug tests are illegal and an insult to state workers.

The requirement would further demoralize state workers, who have gone without a pay raise for six years and last year were forced to contribute 3 percent of their salaries towards their pensions, argued Rep. Dwight Taylor, D-Daytona Beach.

“Now you want them to prove they’re not doing drugs. In other words, you’re guilty. Now prove that you’re innocent. That’s not the way government should operate,” Taylor said.

Smith said he wants to cut back on Florida’s drug problem and that state workers should be treated the same as those who work for private companies, who are allowed to require drug tests.

“Let me be very clear. Drug abuse is a very real problem in the state of Florida,” Smith said. But, he insisted, “This bill does not suggest state workers are more likely to be drug users.”

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16 Responses to “Scott’s legal team comes to defense of state worker drug testing bill”

  1. Bill Neubauer Says:

    My son had to take a drug test to become a pharmacist many years ago. IT WAS PAINLESS, and I think it was important that pharmacy patrons know that his presriptions were safe and effecive under all circumstances. I’ll go ahead and emphasize the PAINLESS aspect of all of these required tests including the ones to produce identification documents. They are all PAINLESS and do not take much time. What’s the big deal? What are loyal Americans afraid of?

  2. V Says:

    “The requirement would further demoralize state workers, who have gone without a pay raise for six years”. Well join the real world and the rest of us. Seems like backpedalling in search of preferential treatment in fear of possible undesirable drug test results.

  3. Voter Says:

    The Governor and legislators are state workers. If this includes them, fine.

  4. FLDemNinja Says:

    This bill does not include the elected officials who we all know are high on something by the policies they endorse.

  5. Bill Of Rights Says:

    We have a right to privacy dont we?. All state county federal workers are subject to testing when hired and or when involoved with an accident. But to say test right now right here thats were you gotta draw the line. What about this scenario, I go on vacation to Amsterdam and I partake in what is perfectly legal there and I come back here and now Im at risk of loosing my Job, thats not living in the land of the free.

  6. Johnny Says:

    Not sure what all the fuss is about. Most businesses that carry health insurance policies for their workers, usually take the ‘drug free’ workplace option for a 5% discount. This includes random drug tests usually every quarter for their employees. Never heard the employees screaming about being unconstitutional. Its their insurance plans and they get a discount for being part of the group. I find it hard to believe that state insurance programs do not have this sort of reduction.
    A bunch of crying about nothing. This is not the same as EVERY worker is being tested. Its random and its a sampling.

  7. RENEGADE Says:

    There are a number of good reasons not to allow it. For one the tests are not 100% acurate. People have lost their jobs who have done nothing wrong because of a false positive.
    If my doctor gives me something to help me sleep at night I now have to reveal confidential medical info to my employer when its none of his business because of the test.
    People have been fired because their employer doesn’t like the fact that their doctor prescribed them a control substance. They have done nothing wrong.

    I have about a dozen more examples. And then there is the fact that these tests can be beaten. So where is the real value?

    What happened to less gov’t in our personal lives????

  8. Seriously? Says:

    Why has no one mentioned that Scott is only doing this because his wife still owns his stake in the medical testing facilities that would get the contract for these drug tests?

    He tried it with the welfare recipients. He gave up because the conflict of interest came to light. Now, he turns against the people who keep the state running… People who already have to take drug tests already.

    Why not say who’s paying for these tests, how much the tests will cost, and how likely they are to achieve anything.

    The absolute best case scenario is that someone is fired and then replaced by someone else. A net loss of productivity, and no real net gain in monetary value. Worst case scenario, everyone passes the tests, and the $150 that each of these tests cost is going indirectly into the pockets of Scott and his cronies.

    There is absolutely zero benefit to the state. There is a lot of benefit to the guy who’s trying to enact it. The same guy convicted of deceit and fraud, for bilking the medicare and medicaid system for over a billion dollars when he was in Texas.

    I don’t know who’s more sad and pathetic… Scott, or the people who stick up for him simply because he put an (R) after his name.

  9. Jim Says:

    Just because you Never heard the employees screaming does not make it right or constitutional.
    So much for Small government conservatism.
    There seems to be no depths the GOP will not sink when it comes to workers rights or the exploitation of the poor.
    Especially if there is a special interest pay day attached.

  10. Jim Says:

    The entire illegal drug policy in America is fatally flawed, it should be a health care issue not law enforcement issue. But then again it would be harder to fill our Privatized for profit prisons.

  11. Fed Up Says:

    You need to spend money on this now? All state and county employees in safety sensitive positions are subject to drug testing. Waste of money in these hard times.

  12. Metal Rules Says:

    Democrats, who insisted the random, suspicionless, drug tests are illegal and an insult to state workers.

    How about us in the private sector who are subject to the same terms as part of our employment? Is it any less insulting, degrading or baseless? No it’s not.
    So what makes state workers so different from the rest of us?
    And don’t answer unions folks.
    You know that’s not it at all.

  13. jim Says:

    Well the truth is in part it is unions, but the private sector has been much more effective in lobbying against workers rights and dividing the American work force.
    Bad policy in the public or private sector is still bad policy.
    The decline of the American working class over the last 30 years can be directly tied to the decrease in union membership.
    Too many people like to demonize Unions be they came into existence because of the oppression and exploitation American workers had to endure. They were hard fought for rights and should not be dismissed so readily.
    This country should be proud of of its workers rights history.
    All one needs to do is look. As corporate profits and CEO,s pay has risen 400 % the working men and women of this country continue to loose ground. As corporations out source jobs and off shore their corporate headquarters to avoid paying taxes,too many have proven time and again they are not good citizens and should be given no quarter.
    Unfortunately GOP governors in states like Wisconsin and Ohio funded by the Koch Bros. are taking the destruction of the American working class to new levels.
    So the real question is, when will working men and women in both the public and private sectors start working together for a better future for all American workers.

  14. JAFO Says:

    Gimme the Dang Cup !! I have nothing to Fear.

    But I want to make Sure MR Rick isnt making a Dime of of the tests. Which im sure he or one of his Relatives is. Like his wife!

  15. Yo-Nick Says:

    OK…..Only problem smoking a joint, on your time takes 30 days to leave, alcohol, 2~Days, Coke-2 Days, U see its the motaboli of the substances….like poppy seeds will and do come positive for opiates. Clean urines and big $$$, in back rooms at clinics get SWITCHED! People do these things and more. Rick Scott is a FOOL, to think he can control his “flock”, soon they will TURN, on him and say,”WTF” U DoRk?What have U done positive for Florida, no your EGO? (a view from out of FL.)Nicklas

  16. DDW Says:

    The only reason Scott is so into drug testing is for the money to be made, period.
    Again the tax payers of Florida will get gouged of there money to improve the profit of some insurance company that will donate a bunch of money to his reelection fund.If he was the least bit concerned for the people of this state he would be pushing for the medical use of marijuana and allow adults to make use of a gift that truly helps and has never caused a single death or illness.
    If this were to happen some300,000,000 million dollars could be put to better use.Like schools instead of prisons.
    But that would hurt the bottom line of the pharmaceutical,insurance and prisons for profit industries.So when they say this about safety call it like you see it(male bovine fecal matter).

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