Make us your home page

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients moves ahead



Adult welfare recipients would have to be tested for drugs under a measure that passed its last committee stop in the Senate today.

The proposal passed out of the Senate budget committee along party lines except for Sen. Evelyn Lynn, an Ormond Beach Republican.
Welfare recipients who test positive would lose their benefits for a year. If they apply for benefits again and fail, they’d be disqualified for three years. Children whose parents lose their benefits could still receive the money but through another designated adult.
Bill sponsor Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, said his bill, which Gov. Rick Scott’s office had a hand in drafting, was an effort to make sure people are not misspending public money on drugs.
“If we’re not going to help the least capable by helping them get off drugs, if not then, when?” he said.
Lynn unsuccessfully pitched two amendments – one that would make the drug testing random and one that would require the state refund the cost of the tests to recipients who test negative – but those proposals failed.
Lynn and other critics said the bill would have costly repercussions, both for the applicant and the budget. The bill assumed most tests costs about $10, but critics said they could run higher than $100, depending on the lab.
“Most of the people on welfare are not on drugs,” said Lynn . “It is unfair to make that assumption and that’s what this bill does.”
She warned supporters that, “You’re voting without know how much it will cost, how many people it will affect and you have no idea what it’ll do to the budget.”

[Last modified: Friday, April 15, 2011 4:34pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours