Hey, you there. You, waiting in line for government assistance. You, the state employee that has worked for the state of Florida for the last twenty years. Guess what? Gov. Rick Scott and much of the Florida Legislature suspects you are taking drugs. They want you to pee in a cup, and pay for the test, too.
This scene could be playing out all over the country if many state legislatures have their way. Over the past year, over thirty states have pursued laws that attempt to mandate drug testing for those seeking government assistance.
Florida is one of them.
Last year, Gov. Rick Scott succeeded in his attempt to make one of his ambitious campaign promises (drug-testing welfare recipients) a reality, convincing state legislators to pass the bill into law. However, last October, a United States District Court in Orlando, Florida ruled that this piece of legislation violated the 4th Amendment, and the purported savings to state taxpayers were grossly miscalculated. Federal District Court Judge Mary Scriven argued that this piece of legislation would likely cost taxpayers millions of dollars, in direct opposition to the arguments made by Gov. Scott & Co..
In December, Georgia was encumbered with their own welfare drug testing legislation, when Democratic State Rep. Scott Holcomb decided that he was going to give legislators a taste of their own pee, err i mean, medicine. Rep. Holcomb filed an amendment that would require state legislators comply with the same drug testing regulations as those sought for those applying for government assistance. And to no one’s surprise, the legislation was immediately withdrawn when his amendment was included.
In a similar affront to drug testing advocates in Congress, Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) ponders why other entities who receive government assistance are not held to the same standard: “I don’t see anyone in the Republican majority demanding drug testing for folks who receive oil and gas subsidies.” Congressman Clyburn perfectly demonstrates how many legislative and electoral battles are won: forcing the opposition to recognize the hypocrisy of their position.
Last night, a correspondent of The Daily Show, Aasif Mandvi brought us an inside look into the Pee-Cup-Gate debate. Gov. Rick Scott’s refusal to answer Mandvi’s challenge to pee in his cup sparked noticeable laughter from the press corps. We applaud The Daily Show for their focus on Gov. Rick Scott’s crusade to ruin people’s lives while wasting millions of taxpayer dollars, comically highlighting this as a shining example of the dire circumstances we face in Florida. But, this is no laughing matter to the many state employees and those seeking government assistance in Florida.
There are two pieces of legislation working their way through the House and Senate chambers (SB 1358 – Employee Drug Testing and HB 1205 – Drug-Free Workplace Act) that aim to drug test state employees on a “random” basis, every three months. They are easily making their way through various committees heading to a vote on the floor of the House. This week, HB 1205 breezed through the Government Operations Subcommittee in a 9-4 vote, and SB 1358 followed suit in the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee in a 8-3 vote.
If Gov. Scott & Co. truly cared about the families that are negatively affected by substance abuse, he should focus his efforts to increase funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment programs across the state. Instead, Gov. Scott & Co. chose to alienate the people that need help the most. And as for state employees, Gov. Scott & Co. want your pee every three months, and if you refuse, keep your eyes peeled for a pink-slip.
Like Congressman Clyburn and other legislators across the country, Florida Democrats must force the opposition into a position to decide whether they will vote for hypocrisy over logic, prejudice over respect, or extreme agendas over common sense.
Are your local lawmakers in favor of wasting your taxpayer dollars paying for pee, or do they support investing in the future of this state and the country? The choice seems simple, but some legislators need to be pushed.