A new Quinnipiac University poll shows 71 percent of Florida voters approve a new law pushed by Gov. Rick Scott that requires welfare recipients to pass drug tests to receive benefits. But Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, is not among that 71 percent. She filed a bill this week that would repeal the law, which is being challenged in court.
"The bill Republicans pushed last session is not only likely to be found unconstitutional, it was unnecessary," Joyner said in a prepared statement. "Floridians who through no fault of their own fell victim to the Great Recession are not only being forced to submit to mandatory drug testing to receive emergency help, but taxpayers are being forced to pay for a screening that has already been found to be a waste of money. This is Big Brother at its worst."
So far, only about 2 percent of these tested have tested positive, Joyner said. She also argues the legislation was never needed, saying the federal government allows states to opt out of providing the financial assistance to people convicted of a felony-level drug possession, use or distribution charge. Florida, she said, never agreed to that provision and continued allow convicted felony drug offenders to receive the money.
"Not only are the Republicans wasting money by requiring a test that most applicants pass, but the process was already in place that made a lot more sense and wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime," Joyner said. "Instead of targeting those we know use illegal drugs, they put the financial burden on everyone to prove that they don’t, racking up the costs to taxpayers through reimbursements and an expensive court fight. Their politics trumped their common sense."