Florida’s draconian new law requiring welfare applicants to undergo drug testing at their own expense went into effect on July 1st. On the surface, this bill sounds good, right? No one wants tax dollars to be spent on drugs. Florida’s welfare program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), is intended to help families pay for food, housing, clothing, medical and other basic living expenses.
It should go without saying that TANF funds should not be used to buy drugs but for whatever reason, Florida’s Republican governor Rick Scott felt the need to really drive this home at last month’s bill-signing:
“It’s the right thing for taxpayers,” Scott said after signing the measure. “It’s the right thing for citizens of this state that need public assistance. We don’t want to waste tax dollars. And also, we want to give people an incentive to not use drugs.”
Not to be outdone, Facebook users agree with Scott. This little ditty, which has apparently gone viral, appeared on my FB feed last week:
Le sigh. Where do I start?
Florida is the first State that will require drug testing when applying for welfare (effective July 1st)! Some people are crying this is unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional? It’s OK to drug test the people who work for their money but not those who don’t? Re-post if you want all states to have this rule….. This is the best idea I’ve heard in a long time!!
First, I’m not a constitutional lawyer so I have no idea as to it’s constitutionality. However, I am extremely curious why this doesn’t violate our constitutional right to privacy? Any barristers out there who can answer that?
But here’s the main point: There is a difference, dear Facebookers, between an employer requiring a drug test as a condition of employment and the state of Florida demanding welfare applicants submit to a drug test prior to TANF enrollment. Employers simply want to ensure they have healthy, reliable workers. The state of Florida is assuming two things:
- Anyone who is poor enough to need TANF assistance could possibly have a substance abuse problem.
- Anyone who is poor enough to need TANF assistance cannot be trusted to spend their money wisely whether or not substance abuse is an issue. Therefore, drug users must be rooted out.
Just because someone is poor does not mean they will spend their welfare checks on drugs.
This is discrimination against poor people. This is class warfare, pitting the working class, like those who are posting and re-posting this awful Facebook meme, against the poorest of the poor who, for whatever reason, need a helping hand from the government for a while.
I hope this law is challenged and overturned. Soon.