Drug testing bill passes Senate Budget Subcommittee

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Recipients of temporary financial assistance would have to test negative on a drug test they pay for before collecting their checks under a measure that passed the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Wednesday on a 5-2 vote, reports the News Service of Florida.Sponsored by Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, the measure (SB 556) closely resembles a House proposal ( HB 353) that also requires recipients to pay for the drug test, which could run from $10 to $70 per test, according to testimony. Backers say the measure would help ensure tax dollars are not being spent to sustain a drug or alcohol addiction while sending a ?ough love?message to abusers to get help. Citing studies showing the degree of drug use among welfare recipients is not significantly higher than that of the general population, critics say the proposal sets unnecessary barriers to low income families who can least afford it. In two parent households, both parents would be tested. Children would be allowed to continue receiving benefits, with assistance checks being sent to guardians who must test negative. The House bill is scheduled to be heard Wednesday afternoon in the House Health and Human Services Committee, its last stop before reaching the floor.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.