Recently there seems to be an unsettling trend sweeping the country, state mandated drug testing for welfare recipients. While proponents for this say that this will prevent drug abusers from using tax dollars to feed their habit, they are completely overlooking the many negative aspects to these types of laws.
Florida is on the forefront of this movement with Governor Rick Scott having signed a bill into law for drug testing welfare applicants back in May 2011, but many others are following suit such as Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Louisiana all looking into adopting similar laws. Governor Scott had said just before signing this piece of legislation into law, “It is unfair for Florida taxpayers to subsidize drug addiction.” Now when one applies for public assistance they must pay for their own drug test, but if they pass then the state will reimburse them the cost of the test. Out of Florida’s first 1000+ applicants since the new rules, only 2% failed their test.
If out of 1000 tests only 2%, or 20 people failed, then given the average $30 cost of testing then the state is looking at upwards of $28,800 in monthly reimbursements. At this rate, the money potentially saved on rejected applicants, after paying for all the passed tests, will add up to somewhere between $40,000 to $100,000 a year. This is a truly pitiful chunk out of a program that will cost roughly $178 million this fiscal year. Add in all the other costs related to the implementation of this program and the state will actually be spending much more money than it saves. And the price for Florida won’t end there; we also need to take into account all of the legal fees Florida will need to pay to defend this law in court as groups like the ACLU seek to declare it unconstitutional.
Let me now take you on a walk a little further down the rabbit hole. After being elected as Florida governor, Rick Scott transferred his ownership interest in a company called Solantic to a trust in his wife’s name, and had said that the company would not contract for state business. Solantic primarily offers walk-in urgent care services to Florida’s citizens, but also says they offer drug testing. Even though Mr. Scott said that Solantic would not contract for state business, guess what company holds the contract for the states drug testing policy? Yup that company is Solantic. So not only will Florida’s tax dollars be spent on unnecessary drug tests, Mr. Scott stands to personally gain a large sum of money by administrating said drug tests.
This information isn’t hard to find either, it’s public knowledge. Just recently on America Live with Megyn Kelly guests Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, heatedly argued against Scott’s new law. During this show Brown had said, “We are in a crisis. The governor ran on [a platform] that he was going to create jobs in every single category. He’s done just the opposite. We’re cutting school funding, we’re cutting education. And the other thing is, you have a program you’re implementing that you personally could benefit, because your company is doing the testing. Give me a break!”
Now that it is clear the reason for Scott pushing so hard for this legislation is to line his own pocket we can move onto the constitutional aspect of this. The 4th amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects private citizens from unreasonable search and seizure and drug tests are considered to be a search. So according to the constitution the government is not allowed to force a citizen to submit to any form of search or seizure without reasonable cause. There is no reasonable cause for the state to force any citizen to submit to a drug test just to receive state/federal benefits. While many working Americans say that there should be no issue with welfare recipients submitting to drug tests, since many private companies have drug testing policies, they fail to see the ramifications of allowing a state to violate constitutional law. One’s personal view on this matter shouldn’t override our guaranteed freedoms. As the old saying goes “give somebody an inch and they’ll take a mile” if we give the government an inch to stomp on our constitutional rights they will end up stomping on more.
While many will say “who cares? This is no big deal,” they should remember the words of Pastor Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller “First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” Right now we are seeing an unwarranted persecution of welfare recipients, but will it end there or will we see more invasive drug testing policies being pushed by legislators that will affect every private citizens?
Disclaimer: These opinions and statements made in these posts are solely the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of 420 Petition and its parent company.