Rick Scott's Order for Random Drug Tests Draws ACLU Ire
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Gov. Rick Scott announced a new executive order Tuesday, mandating drug tests for “all prospective new hires of agencies within the governor’s purview” and random drug tests for established employees in those offices -- but the order is already drawing fire from the ACLU.
“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 in a statement. “Just as it is appropriate to screen those seeking taxpayer assistance, it is also appropriate to screen government employees.”
Scott also praised a measure in the Legislature which would require that welfare recipients face drug testing, which was being sponsored by Republicans Paula Dockery of Lakeland and Steve Oelrich of Gainesville in the Senate and Republicans Chris Dorworth of Heathrow and Jimmie Smith of Tampa in the House.
“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. “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.”
The House version of the legislation, having already passed the Health and Human Services Access Subcommittee earlier in the month, will face the Rulemaking and Regulation Subcommittee on Wednesday. The measure is also expected to be taken up by the Judiciary Committee, the Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee and the Health and Human Services Committee.
The governor’s executive order quickly came under fire. Later on Wednesday, Howard Simon, the executive director of the Florida ACLU, pointed to a 2004 case which, he maintained, found that random drug testing of state workers is unconstitutional.
“I’m not sure why Governor Scott does not know that the policy he recreated by executive order today has already been declared unconstitutional,” said Simon. “The state of Florida cannot force people to surrender their constitutional rights in order to work for the state. Absent any evidence of illegal drug use, or assigned a safety-sensitive job, people have a right to be left alone.”
Simon took aim at Scott, arguing that the executive order was hypocritical coming from Scott, who pledged to fight for a smaller, less intrusive government during the 2010 election cycle.
“Coming from a governor who promised to protect our freedoms by limiting the intrusive reach of government into our personal lives, this massive expansion of government power at the expense of basic rights is stunning and exposes the state to serious future legal liability,” added Simon. “Since we have already succeeded once in overturning this unconstitutional expansion of government power, the ACLU of Florida is willing to represent any state employee or association of state employees who will have their rights infringed upon if the announced policy takes effect.”
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