The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLUFL) today announced that Rep. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) received the organization? third ?efender of Freedom?award for the week which ended today, March 25, 2011.
Rep. Brandes earned the award for his comments and vote against proposed House Bill 353 which would require drug testing for Floridians applying for temporary government assistance even though there is no current, individual reasonable suspicion that the assistance recipient was abusing drugs. Government drug tests have been found to be unconstitutional without exceptions such as current suspicion of drug use or jobs that are ?afety sensitive?or require use of firearms.
In Wednesday? meeting of the House Rulemaking & Regulation Subcommittee, Rep. Brandes opposed the bill and, according to media sources, raised concerns about privacy.
?ep. Brandes showed courage in raising the privacy concerns of an entire class of people,?said Danielle Prendergast, ACLUFL Director of Public Policy. ?e deserves the thanks of all Floridians for recognizing and honoring the rights of people to be from personal, intrusive and broad government searches without suspicion.?
Following debate, Brandes voted against the bill which passed the Committee by a nine to six vote. The bill has three other committee stops in the House. A similar bill in the Senate was amended this week to include even broader drug test searches for Floridians seeking temporary aide.
The Defender of Freedom award will be presented weekly during the Florida Legislative Session to the lawmaker or other leader who displays public courage and defends constitutional freedoms in public policy. The two previous winners were Rep. Carlos Trujillo and Senator Mike Bennett.