Latest Update on Floridas War Against People using Drugs

Finally some sense from Florida -as  Judge Scriven calls ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ and may violate people’s right under the Constitution to lawful search and seizures, as the USA’s fourth Amendment states people must be suspected before any ‘warrant’ can be issued.

Governor Rick Scott’s plan to strip the welfare benefits of anyone testing positive for drugs, including parents (although other ‘clean’ adults would be able to apply on the children’s behalf) has already been implemented for 4 months however on 32 people have been ‘caught’ -most from smoking cannabis.  Florida is the first state since 1999 to enact this law, following Michigan, however this year as times get tougher, over 36 more US states are also trying to implement very similar acts.

The law cannot be overturned unless someone decides to file a complaint, which in Florida’s case, turned out to be a brave single dad, currently attending University whilst caring for his 4 year old son and disabled mum, who refused to have the drug test and filed a complaint.

For some background on this from BP, click here for our previous post when Florida was trying to launch the scapegoating law.

Florida law requiring people seeking welfare benfits to take a drug test has been blocked by a US federal court.

Full Article from BBC (24th Oct 2011)

The judge ruled that the law was unconstitutional and infringes a ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

Since the law was introduced in July, nearly 1,600 people have refused to take the test, according to reports.

Under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families scheme those who pass receive $180 (£113) a month, while a family of four receives $364 a month.

While 32 people have failed the test, some 7,000 have passed since the testing began in mid-July, the Associated Press reports.

Marijuana suspicion

Judge Mary Scriven ruled on a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Navy veteran and single father who applied for the welfare benefits but would not take the drugs test.

He applied for benefits while attending university and cares for his four-year-old son and disabled mother.

Applicants are not required to say why they refuse to take the test.

Supporters of the measure say applicants are avoiding the test because the results would have been positive.

The Florida Department of Children and Families says the majority of those who failed had tested positive for marijuana.

Applicants are required to pay between $25-$35 (£22) to take the test, but only those who pass are reimbursed by the state.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has said the measure could save the state as much as $77m, although it is not clear how the number has been calculated.

The ACLU says Florida is the first US state to enforce such a measure since 1999, when Michigan enacted a similar law.

A judge halted the law five weeks later and it was deemed unconstitutional after an ensuing four-year lawsuit.

Mandatory Drug Testing for People on Welfare?

Master Sgt. Urbano Sosa demonstrates the job o...

drug testing for welfare recipients and state workers

The mood and suspicion against people who take drugs continues to mount, and like a tsunami that erupts and spreads out across the globe – governments are getting swept up in hate speak and populist agendas -and people who use drugs are in the front of the queue to be kicked when they’re down, poor, struggling or none of the above -just kicked because they are using a substance of their choice.

The UK government has been calling obese people and drug users as undeserving of benefits -pushing forward views already held firmly by Australian governments and, although around 8 states in the US are looking into mandatory drug testing, this current move by Governor Scott of Florida is particularly ignorant and deeply disturbing. Scott wants to pass a bill that forces ALL welfare recipients and state workers to undergo MANDATORY drug testing! A positive result means a loss of benefits from 1-3 years -including stumping up the cash for the test itself. There is hope that the bill won’t succeed as it is clearly unconstitutional, the USA’s fourth Amendment stating people must be suspected before any ‘warrant’ can be issued but it seems it has to be challenged in law by July 1st. However, Arizona currently works with such a law, and although people have to be suspected before they can be drug tested, there are many cases of people being unjustly targeted,  only to lose their benefits from a positive result and, are then unable to seek treatment due to either the lack of services -or the inability to pay for treatment. Most people in the US have to pay for methadone treatment -and how do you do that when you have lost your benefits? These are scary times indeed- article below…

Florida’s Senate has just passed the contentious “House Bill 353”; which requires mandatory drug testing of all welfare recipients.

Scott has already signed an executive order mandating drug tests for state workers. But Republican senators this week fended off bipartisan amendments that would have imposed drug tests for anyone working for a company that receives public funds and schoolchildren in the Bright Futures program. Those amendments were designed to sabotage the bill by spreading the net uncomfortably wide.

If Scott signs the bill into law, it is almost certain to face a constitutional challenge, and the challengers would have a strong case. The only other state to pass a suspicionless drug testing bill for welfare recipients, Michigan, saw its law thrown out by a federal appeals court in 2003 as an unconstitutional violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against warrantless searches. Arizona has a welfare drug testing law, but that law requires probable cause before a drug test can be demanded.

The bill, House Bill 353, requires all adult applicants for or existing recipients of federal cash benefits — the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program — to undergo drug testing at their own expense. If they pass the drug test, the cost of the test is reimbursed by the state. The tests would screen for all controlled substances and recipients would have to disclose any legal prescriptions they have.

If recipients test positive, they lose their benefits for a year. If they fail a second test, they lose their benefits for three years. Children whose parents lose their benefits could still receive benefits if another adult is designated the payee on their behalf.

The bill is set to go into effect July 1, provided Gov. Scott actually signs it and no legal challenge has been filed by that date. >>>

Full story at;

http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/2011/may/06/florida_legislature_passes_wefare

House Bill 353 can be found here;

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=45214&SessionId=66

<<< GENERAL BILL by Health & Human Services Committee and Judiciary Committee and Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee and Health & Human Services Access Subcommittee and Smith (CO-SPONSORS) Corcoran; Costello; Drake; Gaetz; Trujillo

Drug Screening of Potential and Exisiting Beneficiaries of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families:

v Requires DCFS to perform drug test on applicant for TANF benefit;

v requires such individual to bear cost of drug test;

v requires department to provide, & applicant to acknowledge receipt of, notice of drug-screening policy;

v requires department to increase amount of initial TANF benefit by amount paid by individual for drug testing;

v provides procedures for testing & retesting;

v requires department to provide information concerning local substance abuse treatment programs to individual who tests positive;

v provides conditions for reapplication for TANF benefits;

v provides that, if parent is ineligible as result of failing drug test, eligibility of children is not affected;

v provides for designation of another protective payee;

v provides rulemaking authority to department.

Check out this video comment on the bill – click below

http://www.videosurf.com/vembed/1271957601?width=640&height_vs=388

Drug Test State Employees, Welfare Recipients?

Effective Date: July 1, 2011 >>>

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