On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott issued a controversial drug test mandate for new state hires while existing state employees will be randomly tested.
This comes after Sen. Paula Dockery R-Lakeland introduced a bill requiring all cash assistance welfare recipients over 18 to pass drug tests.
Officials say it could affect more than 58,000 Florida residents.
The executive order issued by the governor required each of his agencies to amend the drug testing policy to within 60 days. This will require quarterly random testing of existing workforce and pre-employment screening for all job applicants. These tests could cost the state $35 per test, adding up to $3.5 million to the existing deficit and potentially affecting 100,000 people.
“Floridians deserve to know that those in public service, whose salaries are paid with taxpayer dollars, are part of a drug-free workplace. Just as it is appropriate to screen those seeking taxpayer assistance, it is also appropriate to screen government employees,” Scott said.
The move could affect thousands of University employees in the state of Florida.
“It is a waste of time and money. University employees and state officials should already be aware of the illegal use of drugs. Those funds could be used in other areas,” said FAMU sophomore computer information student Trevor Bethea.
“Office duties should be held at a certain standard and rules and regulations should be followed,” said student senator Maurice Jackson, agreeing with Scott’s decision.
“A better, healthier, more productive workforce is something taxpayers deserve.” said Brian Hughes, a spokesman for Scott.
In 2004, a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional to randomly drug test state employees, unless they worked in occupations with affects on public safety.
By law, state agencies already require drug testing for suspension of an employee using illegal drugs. This policy applies to FAMU employees.
“The state cannot force people to surrender their constitutional rights in order to work for the state,” said American Civil Liberties Union of Florida executive director Howard Simon.
“Absent of any evidence of illegal drug use or assigned a safety-sensitive job, people have a right to be left alone.”
“Is there evidence that an overwhelmingly amount of state workers are using illegal drugs? I question the decision to spend funds when the state is already in a financial deficit,” said Juanita Gaston, director of the FAMU Census Information Center.
The drug testing does not include independent constitutional agencies and cabinet members that Scott associates and administers with the cabinet.
The Legislature and state court system are also exempt, causing disagreement among state officials.