Fla. Welfare Recipients Must Pass Drug Tests

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MIAMI—A bill that would require adult welfare recipients to pass a drug test before collecting benefits for themselves and their families is headed to Florida Gov. Rick Scott for signing.

“It’s fair to taxpayers,” Scott said after the vote by the state Senate. “They’re paying the bill. And they’re often drug screened for their jobs. On top of that, it’s good for families. It creates another reason why people will think again before using drugs, which as you know is just a significant issue in our state.”

Scott, who has called the drug testing of welfare recipients one of his legislative priorities, has already signed an executive order requiring random drug testing of state workers.

HB 353 requires all adult recipients of federal cash benefits to pay for the tests, which average around $35. The test would screen for all controlled substances; applicants would also have to disclose legal prescriptions.

Recipients who tested positive for drugs would lose their benefits for a year. Those who failed a second time would lose benefits for three years. Parents who tested positive would have to designate another adult to receive benefits on behalf of their children.

People who passed would be reimbursed by having their benefits increased by the cost of the test.