Gov. Scott quietly signs state worker drug testing into lawby Dara Kam | March 19th, 2012
In less than three months, the state’s 100,000-plus workforce will be subject to random, suspicionless drug testing making Florida the first in the nation to impose the policy.
Gov. Rick Scott signed the state worker drug-testing measure (HB 1205) into law today without fanfare or comment.
The new law, a priority of Scott’s which goes into effect on July 1, allows Scott’s agency heads to order the drug tests for up to 10 percent of their workers four times a year. Lawmakers did not include any additional funding for the urine tests, which run from $5 to $40, in the measure (HB 1205) in the state’s $70 billion budget, prompting some critics to question which services agencies will cut to absorb the costs. Workers can be fired if the drug screen is confirmed positive.
As is always done when Scott signs a bill into law, his office issued a release about the drug testing measure late Monday evening. His letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner transmitting his approval did not include any comment on the plan although it has been a priority of Scott’s since he assumed office last year.
Scott issued an executive order mandating the drug tests last year, but backed away from his plan after he was sued by the ACLU and the union representing government workers. Scott in June limited his order for all but corrections officers pending the outcome of the case in which a federal judge in Miami heard oral arguments late last month.
The ACLU and Democratic lawmakers contend the law violates the constitution’s guarantee of unreasonable search and seizure by the government. And some lawmakers, including Republican Sen. Joe Negron of Stuart, objected that workers who drink alcohol the night before could have a positive test result even if they have not been drinking at work. Negron was the sole Republican senator to vote against the measure; three Republican House members also opposed it.
Scott last year also pushed the legislature to pass a law requiring that food stamp and emergency cash assistance applicants pass drug tests before receiving benefits. In October, a federal judge temporarily put that requirement on hold, ruling the drug screens were unconstitutional.