Source: USA Today
There is this wave of Republican bills around the country that says in order to receive assistance from the government – poor people need to take drug tests. Not only does this infringe on American civil liberties which I am not a fan of…it costs more than it saves taxpayers. Only 2.6% of welfare applicants failed the drug test (I’m sure it’s a little higher than that when you factor in the people who cancelled etc), but it’s not a pandemic. The fact is – it costs Florida taxpayers MORE money to implement this than to eliminate the drug testing requirement altogether. The testing cost taxpayers an additional $11k a month which is peanuts in the big scheme of things but on it’s own merits – it’s not working and it’s under review for being unconstitutional.
The NY Times has the story:
The Florida civil liberties group sued the state last year, arguing that the law constituted an “unreasonable search” by the government, a violation of the Fourth Amendment. In issuing a temporary injunction in October, Judge Mary S. Scriven of Federal District Court scolded lawmakers and said the law “appears likely to be deemed a constitutional infringement.”
From July through October in Florida — the four months when testing took place before Judge Scriven’s order — 2.6 percent of the state’s cash assistance applicants failed the drug test, or 108 of 4,086, according to the figures from the state obtained by the group. The most common reason was marijuana use. An additional 40 people canceled the tests without taking them.
Because the Florida law requires that applicants who pass the test be reimbursed for the cost, an average of $30, the cost to the state was $118,140. This is more than would have been paid out in benefits to the people who failed the test, Mr. Newton said.
As a result, the testing cost the government an extra $45,780, he said.
Georgia is doing the exact same thing – Reuters has the story:
Two states, Michigan and Florida, have adopted similar legislation, and a drug-testing bill is pending in the Oklahoma Senate, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The Michigan Court of Appeals in 2003 ruled that state’s law unconstitutional. Florida’s law has been temporarily blocked by a federal lawsuit.
Utah’s governor last month signed a bill that requires those applying for cash assistance to take a drug test if they are suspected of using drugs. It also allows the state to stop benefits for an applicant who refuses to take the test.
Georgia’s Deal, a Republican, said the legislation “guarantees that the benefits are used for their intended purposes — to care for children and assist with job preparation.”
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