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Scott says state employee drug tests will wait until outcome of ongoing lawsuit

Gov. Rick Scott clarified Tuesday that he wants most state agencies to hold off on implementing the drug-testing requirement he signed into law Monday until the state settles an ongoing legal dispute with the American Civil Liverties Union.

The ACLU of Florida challenged Scott's Executive Order 11-58, which required agencies to change their drug-testing policies so that it applied to job applicants and random employees, in May. Scott suspended the order in June.

"Because the legal case remains unresolved, the practical and logistical issues involved with implementing drug testing across all agencies remain the same," wrote Jesse Panuccio, Scott's acting general counsel in a Tuesday memo. "Accordingly, the guidance in the June 10, 2011 memo is still in place."

Only the Department of Corrections was permitted to move forward with employee drug-testing last summer, with Scott likening it to a pilot rollout. Scott said he wanted all of the agencies to have a "coordinated procurement of drug-testing services."

The memo is a departure from comments Scott made to reporters earlier Tuesday. Speaking after a Cabinet meeting, Scott said he would "absolutely" ask agencies within his purview to move ahead with the law.

"It's a bill that I signed," he said. "We’ll comply with the bill."

The ACLU signaled Tuesday it could challenge the new law, which it deems an unwarranted government search and seizure.

"No one should be surprised if this latest effort ends up in court – just as the Governor’s past efforts to impose urine testing on applicants for government benefits and his Executive Order for state employee testing are now before the courts," excutive director Howard Simon said in a news release. "And when this matter lands in the courts, we expect they will make it clear once again that government cannot subject people to suspicionless searches just because it wants to. People do not lose their constitutional rights just because they work for the state of Florida."

Scott said the drug testing legislation is no different than what already goes on in the business world.  “Private companies do the exact same thing," he said. "They want to have a qualified workforce.”

Download Memo to Agency Heads 03.20.12