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Drug testing for welfare recipients heads to governor

Welfare recipients must be drug tested under a measure headed to Gov. Rick Scott.

The Senate proposal approved the measure 26 to 11. The House had already approved it. The Scott administration played a role in pushing the legislation.

The measure sponsored by Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross City, would require all adult recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to pay for the tests. If they fail the first time, they lose their benefits for one year. Failure a second time leaves them ineligible for three years. Parents who test positive would designate another adult to receive benefits on behalf of their children.

Recipients who test negative would be reimbursed for the cost of the test.

 "This is an effort to stop this cycle of drug abuse," said Oelrich.

Attempts by Senate critics to extend the testing to others who receive state money -- from Bright Futures scholarship students to employees of companies that get incentivies -- failed on Wednesday.