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Gov. Scott commends legislative action on drug testing; announces new staff testing policy

By Staff | Mar 22, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott today applauded the work of legislative leaders to create mandatory drug testing for adults seeking assistance from Florida’s taxpayers.
“I want to commend Senators Steve Oelrich and Paula Dockery, and Representatives Jimmie Smith and Chris Dorworth, for their hard work on this issue,” Scott said in a prepared statement issued by his office. “Today’s committee passage by the Senate of Senate Bill 556 has advanced this important policy, and I look forward to the House moving their legislation tomorrow.”
Scott’s support for drug testing those who would seek taxpayer-funded assistance is consistent with promises he made before his election, his office stated.
In addition, Scott announced Executive Order 11-58. This order will require pre-employment drug testing for all prospective new hires of agencies within the Governor’s purview. It will also require random drug testing of all current employees, from executive leadership to part-time employees.
“Floridians deserve to know that those in public service, whose salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars, are part of a drug-free workplace,” Scott said. “Just as it is appropriate to screen those seeking taxpayer assistance, it is also appropriate to screen government employees.”
The release did not provide the cost associated with the executive order. That figure was not immediately available.
According the Florida Senate web site Senate Bill 556 proposes to require screening of those convicted of a drug-related felony for some types assistance, specifically temporary cash assistance.
The financial analysis estimates that “the bill will have an impact on applicants who are required to undergo a drug screen or confirmation test as a condition of eligibility for temporary cash assistance funds. DCF estimates that the initial drug screen costs will be $10 per person and the confirmatory
test will be $25.00 per person.”
Exact costs will not be known until DCF solicits competitive bids from private laboratories, the site states, adding that DCF does not currently drug screen any individual as a condition of eligibility for cash assistance. DCF estimates that, based on current caseloads, “between 170-340 people would test positive as a result of a drug screen, and that about 1.7 percent of current recipients would have a prior drug felony conviction,” the senate financial analysis states, adding these estimates may be low.
The analysis further states that a drug-screening pilot project was conducted in the Jacksonville area and parts of Putnam County between 1999 and 2001.
“During the project, 8,797 applicants or recipients were tested. Of those 8,797 applicants who were tested, 335 applicants tested positive for a controlled substance. The Orlando Sentinel reported that the cost of the pilot project was $2.7 million,” according to the analysis.