Need food stamps in Florida? Prepare to be drug tested

If you find yourself falling on hard times in Florida and need to apply for food assistance, you’d better be prepared to pee in a cup. Gov. Scott on Tuesday signed a law requiring drug testing of welfare recipients.

The Scott campaign website (which is now run by the Republican Party of Florida) posted a statement from Scott boasting about the bill signing, calling it a “promise kept”:

Today, I signed HB 353, keeping my promise to require drug screening for welfare recipients.

The bill is designed to increase personal accountability and prevent Florida’s tax dollars from subsidizing drug addiction, while still providing for needy children. Parents failing the required drug test may designate another individual to receive the benefits on behalf of the children.

While there are certainly legitimate needs for public assistance, it is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction. This new law will encourage personal accountability and will help to prevent the misuse of tax dollars.

Republicans and Scott offered no evidence of widespread drug abuse among Florida food stamp recipients prior to pushing the bill through during the recent legislative session. Unlike last Thursday’s “private” celebration of Scott’s $615 million vetoes and signing of the state’s new budget, there was no rally, no bused in charter school students chanting Scott’s campaign slogan, and no Sheriff’s deputies scanning the crowds for dissenters.

Recipients of state assistance must pay for the drug tests themselves, and will be reimbursed by the state if they get a negative result. That could wind up costing, rather than saving, Florida taxpayers money. Per The Buzz,

Taxpayers will reimburse welfare applicants for negative drug tests. Positive tests will carry an immediate ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for six months. A second positive test will result in a three-year ban on state assistance.

Other details in the new law:

• The Department of Children and Families must inform applicants that they can avoid a drug test if they do not apply for benefits.

• The state must assure each applicant “a reasonable degree of dignity while producing and submitting a sample.”

• Parents who fail drug tests can get benefits for their children by naming a state-approved designee to collect the money. That designee must also pass a drug test.

That first bullet looks awfully like an attempt to intimidate people into not applying for benefits, which of course, would indeed save Florida money…

The ACLU of Florida has not said whether or not they will sue over the law, which seems like a blatant violation of people’s Fourth Amendment rights if you ask me. The group did issue a statement, and said they would have an announcement tomorrow about Scott’s executive order forcing drug tests on state employees. Here’s the full statement from the group’s executive director, Howard Simon:

“Once again, this governor has demonstrated his dismissal of both the law and the right of Floridians to personal privacy by signing into law a bill that treats those who have lost their jobs like suspected criminals.

“The wasteful program created by this law subjects Floridians who are impacted by the economic downturn, as well as their families, to a humiliating search of their urine and body fluids without cause or even suspicion of drug abuse.

“In 2003, a Federal court determined that forcing those applying for temporary welfare assistance to submit their bodily fluids for a government search violated their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches.

“Surely the governor knew this, and the ACLU testified in the legislature that the bill was a significant and unnecessary invasion of privacy. The new law rests on an ugly stereotype that was disproven by the State’s own earlier experimental drug-testing program.

“Nevertheless, their zeal to score political points on the backs of Florida’s poor once again overrode their duty to uphold the Constitution.

“Searching the bodily fluids of those in need of assistance is a scientifically, fiscally, and constitutionally unsound policy. Today, that unsound policy is Florida law.”

According to the St. Pete Times:’

About 233,000 Floridians applied for cash assistance in 2009-10, including 114,000 families, according to DCF statistics. This month, 93,170 Floridians received cash assistance, a drop of 8.3 percent from a year ago.

Scott’s communications team claimed last month that he divested himself of his interest in Solantic, a chain of clinics that could see a windfall from the new law. No documentation of the stock sale was provided, so Floridians will just have to take the governor’s word for it.

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76 Responses to Need food stamps in Florida? Prepare to be drug tested

  1. beba says:

    People Let’s be REASONABLE here. I’m a 20 yr old Single Mother who works hard everyday to give my son the best life I can possibly give him & yes I smoke POT! I’m not ashamed to say it because that’s the only habit I have. I don’t drink or smoke cigarettes or do any other drugs but in stressful moments a joint helps me relax & go to sleep. I have trouble sleeping at night. It has never affected me or my child. I spend about $30 a month on pot. $30 will not buy me a whole lot of food people. I work my butt off & do online classes as well & you’re telling me I don’t have the right to spend $30 a month on pot ? Now people doing crack, cocaine, heroine, pills, etc that’s understandable but when have you heard of POT affecting a person’s life in any shape or form ? I pay$ 825 for rent, $300 monthly for daycare, not incl utilities. I receive $100 monthly in food stamps & no medicaid. I’m a single mother getting paid $11 an hr do the math. My son is 3 yrs old his dad has been on child support for yrs & I have never received a dime from him. Are they doing anything about this ? Hell NO! I THINK THE GOV HAS MORE IMPORTANT THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT THEN TRYING TO HUMILIATE THE POOR. I know wealthy people who do drugs but it’s okay for them to do it because they have money ? I also agree with the comment up top about it being okay to use TANF or food stamps to buy alcohol & cigarettes isn’t that worse ? People die from that everyday. That is absurd. On top of that innocent children are the only ones who are going to be affected by this. The crime rates will get higher because people are now going to ROB others to put food on their tables. So how is this saving us money ? …. I honestly feel us hard working people shouldn’t have to pay for other peoples mistakes

  2. Anonymous says:

    All well and good. But there are ALWAYS ways to get around this. Tons of ways in fact. It won’t stop any abuse if it is there.

  3. Kevin says:

    I work as a clerk in a convenient store and the way to save money with benefits is to regulate the spending that people do with them. People will come into the store one women and kid in a stroller and 4 to 6 guys with her and they will walk around grab the baby in the stroller a tuna sandwhich and a hug jug, then procede to buy literally and no lie 60 to 70 dollars worth of candy and beef jerky!!! Now this is not only one night a week or even month, this is 3 nights a week all month long and thats just nights I work. Tha isnt counting the other night and the ones I dont work there. Go to the store around the first of the month and watch peoples carts. Now we all know how much it costs at walmart, you can barley buy a bag of stuff for under 20 bucks, thats if you wanna eat junk. Now you got people with a train of carts stacked full of food,a nd see what the stuff if, junk, chips candy,fruit snacks, no fruits or vegitables or good stuff, just JUNK FOOD!!! Now how can a kid or adult be healthy on that? But drug testing people for the CASH benefits should take place, as well as watching their withdraws off that card, let’s say a gram of coke cost you 60 bucks in your area of the state, well if that case worker has 30 people on her list that make numerous 60 dollar withdraws a week then most likely they are using drugs. Come on people this would put the unemployed back to work for their benefits. Thats an amazing thing to me, why don’t the state allow you to work at the office filling paper’s or something for them benefits? Because its to easy for them to do something smart, instead they have to make a big deal of something just to look dumb in the end. I’ve worked since before I was 18 but payed taxes since 18. No drug dealer that I have ever known takes food card when you buy a bag of weed. And even people I’ve known who sold the money never bought drugs with it only diapers or gas for the car to get to work, and thats why they were on benefits in the first place was after paying their bills and increasing gas prices they had to sell them just to get to work or buy something that they needed. All of those who act mightier then the needy your day is coming where youll need something and cant get it. Its already hard enough to get the benefits without more hoops to jump through. We have food card when I was off of work on unemployment,and when my unemployment ran out, my wife got a raise and when they reevaluated us we lost the food stamps, for a .10 cent raise, thats $4.00 a week. And all this happend at once. But you know something to be honest we were able to pay our bills better and on time when I didnt have to commute 45 minutes eachway to work. Once I went back to work we got behind on the bills and everything, because we didnt have that 200 a month for food and then having to pay 100 a week in gas and up keep on the car. So whos really the joker us working people that go to an early grave, or the benefite people who live long lives and have a great time all the time??? You be the judge.

  4. I must agree thoroughly with the individual above me. Regulate where the money is spent and then regulate the companies that make that product to make it the most cost-effective if government money is going to fund this food. People forget that the companies that do these tests are making TONS of profit, and it is those same people *cough cough rick scott* that try to pass these bills. It has nothing to do with society, nothing to do with drugs, nothing to do with morality. It is a way to funnel taxpayer money into the hands of the rich who come up with schemes like this. Move away from what is morally right, because everyone’s morals differ. What doesn’t differ is money, and our money is being taken out of our pockets to fund some bullshit idea that every poor person is using drugs and that is why they are poor.

    Brandon Barnett

  5. Chellypop says:

    We’ll let see….. My.problem is OUR FUCK ASS SCOTT can seem to get this pass so quickly, but lack to get most of us back to work! I say lets all go to his house sit in his yard, buy some WEED & SOME MEAT TO BBQ and lamp @ his shit! Now this dickhead can house our broke ass!

    Now im not mad at his decision, but I think sending most of these illegal alian back to THEIR.COUNTRY will indeed help our own state get back on track! All you see out hete working for pennys is them! They got most of the jobs american spent years trying to get! Example “city jobs, gov. Jobs, lawn services”on its sad!! But im going pass your little dt so I continue getting my benifits! Fuck Scott and all who agree with any law that bitch make!

    • Jay says:

      Beba. If you live in Flordia and your husband is supposed to be paying Child support. Then all you have to do is go back to court and file a contempt order on him. I know this for a fact because I had to pay flordia child support for many years. And I paid every month. And they NEVER left me alone. I think it’s great that you have to take a drug test… That thirty bucks will buy a lot of beans. So STOP crying!!!!!!

      Chellypop. You another one that’s crying in your own milk. That’s the problem with you people. Let’s send all the illegals back. But the truth is you r not going to do the job that they do. R U. Hell no. And surly not for the same pay that they do. So if we have to listen to stupid people like you. The job would never get done and if it did it would cost twice as much. And the tak payers would have to spend even more to make up for the extra money..

  6. Sarah says:

    Who do you contact to report someone who is getting food stamps and medicaid that is using recreational drugs before the testing of recipients began?

  7. Richard Bragg says:

    I have seen so many of these public welfare programs abused that I think they should all be only LOANS, not giveaways. Yes, it’s a good idea to drug test since I have personally seen so many on welfare drunk or high. Most companies have drug testing to get a job, so why should the people NOT working be getting off scott free to do what they want with my tax dollars?

    Constitutional? Show me in the Constitution where it says I have to give you free money, MY money that I EARNED.

  8. Justice says:

    Has anyone been reading the pomposity of the pro side of this debate? i came in to this without an opinion but the PEOPLE supporting this make me think it is a bad idea….after all if these arrogant compassionless people think it must be right …….it must not be. After all i can think of many who work and are quite poor…poor enough this will be an additional burden regardless….as for me i REFUSE to allow anyone to take my fluids……but how long will it be till i am require to satisfy the requirements for social security , a pell grant, my GI bill or somesuch……as for you rich anti-entitlement sorts have any of you seen a food riot and just because a person is on drugs does not mean he will allow himself or his family to starve….. even if he has to burn you out of his home (i.e. french revolution)

  9. dm says:

    Everybody must eat, even people on drugs. You take away the food, they will do what they need to in order to survive. Here comes more crime.

  10. Angela says:

    I could care less if they drug test me or not. I am a single mother and fulltime nursing student in florida. Six months ago I tried to get involved with their workforce program because I had been laid off and had been looking for work for over 4 months. I was told my 739 in child support made me ineligible. This past week I recertified for food stamps and found out that I will be receiving a whopping 22 dollars a month for me and my 13 year old daughter. The kicker is six months ago I qualified for over 300 a month but because I am NOW a fulltime college student trying to better myself and be able to support my self and daughter in the near future I am no longer eligible. I can drop out of school and I will get back my 300 in foodstamps I suppose! The system is rediculas. I asked about the workforce program again and she said I dont qualify bc I no longer qualify for the foodstamps! But remember when I asked before about it I didnt qualify bc the 739 a month in child support disqualified me. Here I am wanting to work, wanting to go to school and trying to make it and I have doors shut on me every day. So for all of you that think us single parents that need some assistance are drug users and planned on raising our children alone, and or never were able to finsh college….we are not all losers, that use drugs, and are just sitting back waiting for the govenrment to pay our way! Thge goverment makes it so if you only require a little help then you dont qualify but if you are doing nothing to better yourself or situation you qualify for tons of assistance. And to top it all off, the caseworkers can’t even explain why or why not you qualify for anything. They simply read off the charts and if you qualify one way, they go to another chart until they find a way that you do not qualify! Way to go with welfare reform! Instead of trying to fix it, they just add a drug screen.

  11. Marti says:

    Im sorry. I do not think this is right. Unfortunatly I have fallen on hard times and am having to see if I can recieve some help. Im not worried about the test per se because Im under a doctors care, but I do feel it is an invasion of privacy, unfortunatley that is what happens when you have to depend on others for help. Im going through a situation now where back in 95 I had to have help for a few months because I just had a baby, the father wasnt around and it took the state 6 years to get him to pay support. I started working and the 1st 2 months I recieved help. Now they want to take that out of what I need now to pay back when and this is what gets me. I was working then trying to get on my feet, so Im being penalized. And now you can work and recieve benefits but I cant because I am now disabled.. What Irony huh? O well we all have our problems I have to work through mine as we alll do. I just feel this is an intimidation factor, and that they are doing it in hopes of people not applying as they may would under different circumstances. If it was for a pure reason I wouldnt have a problem with it. But sadly everything and everyone seems to have alterior motives.

  12. Marti says:

    Angela I dont know If you will see this but If you do please know you and your daughter are in our prayers. I wish you the best. You are out there trying and dammit its not right…. I understand what you mean. If you get any help at all God forbid I might be able to buy some clothes for my child or pay the majority of my bills, we cant have that. Yet right now downtown we have a courthouse on steroids being built……330mill I think it was last I checked. We drove by it today and it is massive… It will make you ill if you read some of the articles on how they have been handling the construction… Im not sure exactly what happend that made them change architects, but instead of using what they had already built , the money that was already spent, they started over….it was supposed to be 190mill to begin with now its like 330… can u imagine what we could do for ourselves with just a few thousand of that. Anyway I know it doesnt really help, but you are not alone. Stay strong I believe if you try you will succeed. Take care. =)

  13. ridiner says:

    I can understand him wanting to drug test people that are on welfare. In this day in age there are a lot more people on drugs. I believe that if you take drugs that are prescribed to you then you shouldn’t be penalized. I am not living in Florida right now but I will be in a couple of months. I am on food stamps and I wouldn’t mind taking a drug test, but I don’t think we should have to pay for it. What about if one person doesn’t do any drugs but their spouse does? Does that cut everyone off?

  14. Jeff says:

    I think turn abour is fair play. If the Florida Gov. thinks that tax payers shouldn’t have to give assistance to people who have durgs in their system, then those who hold gov. jobs, including politicians,( whos pay chek comes from tax payers), should also be drug tested . Common sence tells me that , just because you work for the gov. doesn’t exclude you from being drug users. You would be surprised how many drug users are writting our laws , and enforcing the laws. The fact that the decisions that politicians, and judges make, effect the public a lot more than those who apply for assistance, tells me that more attention should be put on what runs through their vains. I would love to have the job of going around in my state and give random drug test to gov. officals.

  15. Stephanie says:

    Well if you’re not doing drugs then there’s nothing to worry about. It’s time we clamp down on this so those who are truly in need can be helped and the lazy freeloaders can be cut loose to take responsibility for themselves. America is broke and no one seems to understand.

  16. suzanne says:

    The only problem with the Food Program is the people who make a living at it.The program was designed to help in time of need not for the use of having 4 or five kids with 4 or five different dads who never pay child support because they know the state will feed them. And the mom will do this just to keep from working. I think it is wrong to do drug testing in order to get food. Someone has a problem, they need help, not denied food. They want to do a drug test, THEY pay not the client. Government is getting into our private lives way too much. Why do so many of you think you have the right to tell someone how they can live their life? Just because some people are poor does not mean you have the right to judge them and decide if they can have a drink, buy a lotto ticket, or smoke a cigarette. Alot of people had to get help due to the job loss, do you think getting help with food is a 5 star outing? Most of he people I know cannot wait to get back on their feet and get off gov. help. It is not what Americans want to do.They want to work and pay their own way. I guess it is ok to do drugs if you pay your own way, but not if you need help?Having to pee in a cup for food..just wrong.Peoples’ prescription meds would not count .Illegal drugs would apply .We could just line up EVERY citizen for drug testing. Then the state could like cut up your credit cards if you do drugs, kinda the same as taking away food from the poor..I just hope none of you who sound so cold and uncaring about other people ever fall on hard times. It CAN happen to you you know. And if it does, lets hear your views then

  17. KC says:

    I have no problem with it. It is the people who can’t get them because they make one dollar too much. Or people who just want to act like they are the only one paying taxes. I have said this from time and time again and again ” IF YOU RECEIVE A TAX RETURN YOU ARE NOT A TAX PAYOR!” and what taxes you do pay would not amount to much that is issued to Welfare, Food Stamps or any other programs.
    I believe there should be a nation wide drug testing program as well as Alcohol testing as well and if you pop positive you are executed.. NOW HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?…..

  18. kc says:

    Welfare in the United States commonly refers to the federal government welfare programs that have been put in place to assist the unemployed or underemployed. Help is extended to the poor through a variety of government welfare programs that include Medicaid, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC).

    The history of welfare in the U.S. started long before the government welfare programs we know were created. In the early days of the United States, the colonies imported the British Poor Laws. These laws made a distinction between those who were unable to work due to their age or physical health and those who were able-bodied but unemployed. The former group was assisted with cash or alternative forms of help from the government. The latter group was given public service employment in workhouses.

    Throughout the 1800′s welfare history continued when there were attempts to reform how the government dealt with the poor. Some changes tried to help the poor move to work rather than continuing to need assistance. Social casework, consisting of caseworkers visiting the poor and training them in morals and a work ethic was advocated by reformers in the 1880s and 1890s.
    Prior to the Great Depression, the United States Congress supported various programs to assist the poor. One of these, a Civil War Pension Program was passed in 1862 and provided aid to Civil War Veterans and their families.

    When the Great Depression hit, many families suffered. It is estimated that one-fourth of the labor force was unemployed during the worst part of the depression. With many families suffering financial difficulties, the government stepped in to solve the problem and that is where the history of welfare as we know it really began.

    Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Social Security Act was enacted in 1935. The act, which was amended in 1939, established a number of programs designed to provide aid to various segments of the population. Unemployment compensation and AFDC (originally Aid to Dependent Children) are two of the programs that still exist today.

    A number of government agencies were created to oversee the welfare programs. Some of the agencies that deal with welfare in the United States are the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Labor, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Education.

    Welfare history continued to be made in 1996 President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. Under the act, the federal government gives annual lump sums to the states to use to assist the poor. In turn the states must adhere to certain criteria to ensure that those receiving aid are being encouraged to move from welfare to work. Though some have criticized the program, many acknowledge it has been successful.

    Those who seek welfare information can find such information on the Internet or by looking under United States Government in their local phone book. Programs are available to those who qualify to provide welfare help in the areas of health, housing, tax relief, and cash assistance.

  19. Jay says:

    Beba. If you live in Flordia and your husband is supposed to be paying Child support. Then all you have to do is go back to court and file a contempt order on him. I know this for a fact because I had to pay flordia child support for many years. And I paid every month. And they NEVER left me alone. I think it’s great that you have to take a drug test… That thirty bucks will buy a lot of beans. So STOP crying!!!!!!!

  20. Jay says:

    Beba. If you live in Flordia and your husband is supposed to be paying Child support. Then all you have to do is go back to court and file a contempt order on him. I know this for a fact because I had to pay flordia child support for many years. And I paid every month. And they NEVER left me alone. I think it’s great that you have to take a drug test… That thirty bucks will buy a lot of beans. So STOP crying!!!!!!

    Chellypop. You another one that’s crying in your own milk. That’s the problem with you people. Let’s send all the illegals back. But the truth is you r not going to do the job that they do. R U. Hell no. And surly not for the same pay that they do. So if we have to listen to stupid people like you. The job would never get done and if it did it would cost twice as much. And the tak payers would have to spend even more to make up for the extra money..

  21. Tiffany says:

    For all the people saying people should not be denied food stamps just because they do drugs or smoke weed is incorrect if you can’t afford food how the hell can u afford drugs. I am not on foodstamp, I do smoke weed but I ca afford all my bill and more and I am 21 years old with no parents, family or help i have done it all on my own. If you do need foodstamps its not a bad thing your trying to upgrade your life but there shouldnt be an issue. There are moms with their nails done, hair dyed, and they have louis vittan bags but have a food stamp card. I have never had any of that done and I dye my hair for $3 at home parents grow up stop bitching and expecting shit for free

  22. site says:

    Useful info. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I’m shocked why this coincidence did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

  23. lolo0923 says:

    to be honest i have seen people on the 1st of the month go and sell their food stamps just so they can buy their drugs this whole thing is not only to save tax payer money but to also stop giving the drug dealers money most people in my area are all drug users n alcoholics and guess where they getting their money DCF so for those that seem blind to this fact then maybe we need to drug test u for sure because u have to b on something if u don’t see that our tax money is going to the drug dealers on the 1st of the month n by the 15th of the month if not sooner they broke so they out robbing and stealing to keep their drug habit me for 1 i am tired of seeing it now i do get food stamps to feed my family because i don’t make enough to pay the bills and support a child that eats more then anyone in my house n yes i also smoke weed but i don’t pay for my weed but i will also be the main one quitting to smoke because if its smoke or feed my son’s then yea i choose feed my kids now what i do wanna see is mr scott here start making more jobs here in florida because having to work 2 jobs to keep a roof over my familys head is getting to the point where i will never be able to retire and its bad enough im not even suppose to be working due to my disability’s but im not gonna sit here and collect a 700 dollar check every month that dont even cover my rent

  24. frustrated in Florida says:

    I’m the grandmother of a 6 yr old and his mom is and has been for some yrs voluntarily unemployed, and getting food stamps and child support for my grandson as well as for another child (14) from a different father, she smokes pot but to hear her talk she deserves everything she gets from us the tax payer, she doesn’t want to work, she sleeps all day, she can’t control her children but she has the b__s to say she deserves it….I’m sorry but she doesn’t and my son is struggling making sure child support is paid even though his lost his job and has been diligently trying to get a job. Meanwhile, he and his wife suffer with meeting that responsibility as well as making sure their own bills are maintained. Where is the justice, so YES i’m for testing those who are getting food stamps and I wish it could be the same for those receiving child support.

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