Senate poised to vote on drug testing for welfare recipients

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After repeated attempts to amend a Senate bill (SB 556) requiring drug testing of welfare recipients failed, the Senate Budget Committee voted 12-7 to require adults who receive welfare in Florida to be drug tested and pay for it themselves. If a person fails a test, they would lose their benefits for a year. Sen. Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, tried offering amendments that would allow for random testing and one that would reimburse welfare recipients for the cost of drug tests if they pass. Both amendments failed. ?ost people on welfare are not on drugs,?Lynn said. ?t is unfair to make that assumption.?But the Senate sponsor, Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, said it? reasonable for the state to demand that people accepting taxpayer money be drug-free. ?t is good public policy to take the position that we don? want tax dollars used to fund illicit drug use,?said Rep. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville. The measure has the strong support of Gov. Rick Scott. Its House companion (HB 353) has one more committee stop.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.