Tuesday, May 27, 2014

ACLU says Scott administration has spent nearly 400K pushing for drug tests

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 6:30 PM

click to enlarge Welfare-Drug-Testing-in-23-states.jpg
Rick Scott hasn't been that successful in getting the courts to go along with his desires to drug test welfare recipients or state workers, and his efforts have cost the state over $380,000 in the process.

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal regarding his 2011 executive offer that would have required random drug tests for as many as 85,000 state workers. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the program was too broad in scope, but did say drug testing without suspicion could be used in certain cases, such as for law enforcement officers or commercial drivers and/or pilots.

And last December a federal judge in Orlando struck down a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing.The Governor is appealing that decision as well - at a cost to taxpayers.

A public records investigation by the ACLU of Florida has found that the state of Florida has spent $381,654.45 on the cases, not including staff attorneys’ salaries or court-ordered attorneys’ fees— or the costs of administering the drug testing programs in the first place.
“Every court that has heard Gov. Scott’s argument that the state has the power to compel people to submit their bodily fluids for government inspection without suspicion of wrongdoing has rejected it as a violation of the constitution’s protections against unreasonable searches,” stated ACLU of Florida staff attorney Shalini Goel Agarwal, lead attorney in the state employee drug testing case, in a press release. “Nevertheless, the governor is spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars paying private lawyers to push the extreme idea that government can treat anyone like a suspected criminal and compel them to give up their constitutional rights. It’s become a costly and embarrassing boondoggle for Floridians.”

"State employees should have the right to work in a safe and drug-free environment, just like in any other business,"Scott said after SCOTUS declined to hear the state's appeal. "The merits of this case are still being deliberated in the U.S. Southern District Court, and we will continue to fight to make sure all state employees, who are paid by taxpayer funds, can work in a safe, drug free workplace."

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