Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Politics

Florida Gov. Rick Scott drops appeals in welfare drug testing case

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will not seek U.S. Supreme Court review of a law that would have required applicants for welfare benefits to submit to mandatory drug testing

The law, a top priority of the Republican governor's first term, was ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts. Scott's administration did not ask the Supreme Court to consider the case by a Tuesday deadline.

American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said that means lower court rulings invalidating the 2011 law will stand.

"After nearly four years of litigation, this ugly attack on poor Floridians has finally come to an end," Simon said Wednesday. "This law was always about scoring political points on the backs of Florida's poor and treating them like suspected criminals without suspicion or evidence."

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven in Orlando originally declared the law requiring urine tests for the applicants to be an unconstitutional search and seizure, a ruling upheld by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December. Scriven and the appeals judges found no evidence of a pervasive drug problem among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program applicants.

The ACLU challenged the law on behalf of Luis Lebron, an Orlando Navy veteran and single father who refused to submit to a urine test. The 11th Circuit found that only about 2.6 percent of Florida welfare applicants failed the drug test during the four months the law was in effect, almost half for marijuana use.

"We chose not to appeal this case," said Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz in an email. "The governor is continuing to protect Florida children any way he can and create an environment where families can get jobs so they are able to pursue their dreams in safe communities."

Another of Scott's drug-testing priorities, an executive order requiring random drug tests for thousands of state workers, was also struck down by a Miami federal judge. The 11th Circuit, however, reversed part of that ruling, concluding that some categories of workers in sensitive jobs could be subjected to such tests.

State officials and a union representing many of them are currently working toward agreement on those categories, which would again go before a federal judge.

Comments
Daniel Ruth: City owes Gonzmart and Princess Ulele more than a notice of code violation

Daniel Ruth: City owes Gonzmart and Princess Ulele more than a notice of code violation

This has to be height of bureaucratic pettiness, especially for a city whose track record in promoting quality public art falls somewhere between stick figures and finger puppets.Richard Gonzmart is a community treasure. As the force behind a number ...
Published: 09/19/18
Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Two things you need to know about Florida’s prison budget:1. It was $2.3 billion this year.2. It was still not enough.Kind of staggering when you think of it that way, huh?We keep spending more and more on housing prisoners, and it’s like throwing mo...
Published: 09/18/18
Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said Monday he was willing to speak to a Senate panel to "refute" an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman while in high school, after his accuser said via her attorney that she was ready to testi...
Published: 09/17/18
California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in subu...
Published: 09/16/18
Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

It’s been nearly a year since the U.S. embassy in Havana suspended processing requests from people hoping to leave the island nation as refugees. The reason: Staffing was reduced to a skeleton crew in the wake of mysterious health attacks on em...
Published: 09/17/18
Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

His time in Tallahassee is coming to an end. Eight years of triumph or shambles, depending on your point of view. And yet, Rick Scott’s legacy may not be written until his final minute as governor.For several years, Scott has been plotting a judicial...
Published: 09/15/18
Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’ Fate in Doubt

Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’ Fate in Doubt

WASHINGTON D.C.? — Back when their relationship was fresh and new, and President Donald Trump still called his defense secretary "Mad Dog" a nickname Jim Mattis detests ? the wiry retired Marine general often took a dinner break to eat burgers with h...
Published: 09/15/18
Carlton: The mayor, the restaurateur and the giant statue that had to go: A Tampa tale

Carlton: The mayor, the restaurateur and the giant statue that had to go: A Tampa tale

You would have thought the controversy over whether chickens should be left alone to keep boldly roaming the streets of historic Ybor City — and the impressive pro-chicken lobby that showed up to argue on their behalf — would be the quintessential on...
Published: 09/15/18

5 takeaways from Paul Manafort’s plea agreement

Five takeawaysWASHINGTON — Paul Manafort’s agreement to plead guilty and cooperate with the special counsel marks a milestone in the investigation led by Robert Mueller. Here are several key elements:Mueller knows more than we doThe public doesn’t kn...
Published: 09/14/18
Clearwater voter forums will discuss referendum on strong mayor charter change

Clearwater voter forums will discuss referendum on strong mayor charter change

CLEARWATER — Residents can hear varying perspectives on the Nov. 6 referendum on whether to change Clearwater’s form of government into a strong mayor system at two upcoming forums.The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a forum Monday ...
Published: 09/13/18