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Rick Scott Orders State Employees Randomly Drug-Tested Often, Like Welfare Recipients

| March 22, 2011

What passes for policy passing from Rick Scott.

Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order on Tuesday that will require random drug testing of many current state employees as well as pre-hire testing for applicants.

“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 reference to taxpayer assistance referred to a push by Scott and legislative Republicans to require those who apply for state benefits under the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program to submit to a drug test before getting benefits. That proposal (SB 556) was approved unanimously on Tuesday by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee. It has another stop before the Senate floor.

Under Scott’s proposed order, current employees in agencies that answer to the governor, would be subject to periodic random screening. The executive order signed by Scott says the tests would require testing of each employee “at least quarterly.” The random testing of current employees will begin in 60 days under the order.

“A better, healthier, more productive workforce is something taxpayers deserve,” said Scott spokesman Brian Hughes.

Effective immediately, any new hires in governor’s agencies would also be subject to pre-hire drug testing under the order.

State agencies are already allowed – though not required – to do pre-hiring drug screening under the Florida Drug-Free Workplaces Act. State officials couldn’t say Tuesday which, if any, agencies already do that.

State agencies, under that law, also can already require drug testing when there’s suspicion that a current employee is using illegal drugs, but courts have generally found that random testing of government workers who aren’t in jobs that affect public safety, such as bus drivers, or in security positions, amounts to a “search” by the government. Such searches must be “reasonable,” generally, and some courts have interpreted such requirements of ordinary government workers as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches.

In fact, almost immediately Scott’s order came under fire from the ACLU, which said that a 2004 federal court ruling in Florida on exactly this issue made at least part of Scott’s order unconstitutional.

In that case, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that the Department of Juvenile Justice was violating the Fourth Amendment in ordering random drug testing. Hinkle ordered DJJ to halt the random drug testing and pay the employee who sued, Roderick Wenzel, $150,000.

It’s not clear whether the DJJ ever did stop its random drug testing. A spokeswoman for the agency referred that question to the governor’s office.

Hughes, the Scott spokesman, said he didn’t know enough about the case to comment on what ever happened to the Wenzel case, or why it didn’t have a bearing on Tuesday’s order.

But the ACLU contends that random searches of all employees aren’t allowed.

“I’m not sure why Gov. Scott does not know that the policy he recreated by executive order today has already been declared unconstitutional,” ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon said in a statement. “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.”

Hughes said Scott, obviously, believes otherwise.

“The governor has some of the best legal advisors available,” Hughes said. “This executive order is within his legal authority.”

–David Royse, News Service of Florida

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25 Responses for “Rick Scott Orders State Employees Randomly Drug-Tested Often, Like Welfare Recipients”

  1. Tom Brown says:

    I hope the drug tests start in the governor’s office. The guy looks and acts like he’s on something. And his refusal to track oxycodone traffic has got to raise suspicions.

  2. Jojo says:

    Here we go again, Adolph Hitler II. There’s one born every day. How much is that going to cost taxpayers to have state employees piss tested, did I read, quarterly?

    Seems like the perfect political subterfuge to have one of his cronies get a piece of the million dollar I owe you pie.

  3. Monica Campana says:

    Ahhh! Finally some jobs! I might agree with this expensive proposition if it included the Florida legislature.

  4. Mike says:

    Tom Brown: My sentiments exactly. You beat me to the punch. Darn you!!!

    Mr. Tristan: Can’t get enough of the witty one-liners under the captions. This one scores an 11 out of 10.

  5. Robert says:

    Tom Brown I agree.
    Begin in the governors office, include the legislature and their staffs.
    Don’t forget to add the police and all other law enforcement personnel as well as the prisons, private and state.

  6. 91LX says:

    Well, well, well. Finally something that I agree with from Rick Scott.

  7. Bob Z. says:

    As per the article, “Under Scott’s proposed order, current employees in agencies that answer to the governor, would be subject to periodic random screening.” – what agencies would those actually be?

  8. John Boy says:

    I’ll bet that his Solantic Clinics will be the biggest supplier of testing, anything to increase his personal wealth, just like he did away with the Drug Data base so Solantic pill pushing would not be tracked. This idiot needs to go before he does any more damage..

  9. Dorothea says:

    Who selects the company that does the testing? Bet if you dig deep enough the governor has a financial interest in the lab or the lab gave big bucks to his election campaign. More corporate welfare and less individual rights for workers.

  10. Jim Guines says:

    As long as he, Scott, pees first!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Could be why the commissioner, Dr Eric Smith, is resigning. I hope we get Michelle Rhee.

  12. Kevin says:

    Tom Brown:

    I agree with that comment…that man is not healthy looking in my opinion. I wouldn’t doubt it if he puffed on a crack pipe from time to time based on his thinning musculature, extending bone prominences, and speech type (that being inappropriate for the situation lackadaisical delivery of his comments–I don’t trust that)

    No, but on a serious note Skeletor really is pushing his luck because he is on loose footing with many independents and conservatives already for his “past” and current actions such as these intrusive protocols concocted for no legitimate reason. He is really beginning to piss me off. No pun intended! Pissing in a cup should not be random in my opinion unless it is a critical or emergency position, or involving dangerous equipment and the potential for injury or loss of life.

  13. Jack says:

    Pierre: I find your use of photos very amusing and many times apropos, where did you find this gem of a photo to accompany your article? Stock photo or staged photoshoot? Inquiring minds want to know ;)

  14. Tina Jeffe says:

    Another example of less intrusive and smaller government by ou Republican friends!!

  15. christie2012 says:

    The federal government forces many of it’s employees to take a drug (urine) test all the time. Why don’t you whine and bitch about Obama. Many private industry’s require their employees to be drug tested and many are federally required.
    In the new age of civility, sure looks like many of you did not get the memo or you have been the problem all along.

  16. Liana G says:

    Christie 2012:

    “Many private industry’s require their employees to be drug tested and many are federally required.”

    Have to agree with you on this one Christie. As much as I am a strong supporter of the ACLU, I feel they are being disingenuous in protecting public service workers only and not the general public at large.

    As a tax payer, I feel that public service employees should be held at the same standards if not higher than private corporations whose employees are not paid by tax payers. ( I know there are some private corporations that are paid with tax dollars).

    Just last week? NASA found cocaine in an area accessible to high ranking employees only.

  17. Bob Z. says:

    This issue will be settled very soon since the ACLU is planning to challenge his order in court, based on the 2004 court ruling that the ACLU states prevents him from enacting such as program.

  18. Jack says:

    I agree with drug testing, but in this case I bet Rick Scott who owns a number of clinics with drug testing services will get the lucrative contract of providing that service.

  19. Jojo says:

    Jack, he can’t He has to excuse himself as it is a conflict of interest. Scott already has beat a long jail term. The man we call Gov needs to be watched.

    And, Z, if Scotts’ legal wizards know this why are they wasting tax payers money to proceed knowing it was defeated in the courts already.

  20. rickg says:

    Another jackboot violation of the 4th Amendment. Why do these people cling to the 2nd Amendment so much but seem to think that other parts of the Constitution mean nothing?

  21. Jack says:

    As you might know Jojo, Solantic which provides drug testing services was handed over to his wife, his entire $62 million stake in the company, conflict of interest means nothing and this will happen along with the privatization of the medicaid program. And who gets richer?

  22. BW says:

    Can the so-called conservatives here that like to be so vocal and righteous in this area please offer some explanation here? Isn’t the stance that Republicans are the answer to smaller government that reduces costs? Here we have a cost increasing agenda while taking dramatically from education budgets? Oh, was this the job creation Scott spoke of? If he can fire and force out as many people as possible . . . you create jobs. While also creating new job opportunities for drug screeners? Boy you all are sure smart and we really should listen to them there conservative Republicans.

  23. Abstract thinking says:

    Among those who report directly to the Governor are the Sheriff’s of each county. Does this mean all Florida Sheriff’s and their staff will be drug tested? Unless the urine drug tests are “observed” (meaning someone actually watches them pee into the cup) the results will be meaningless. There’s way too many ways to bring in “clean” urine and beat the test, even with the temperature sensor on the cup.

  24. just a citizen says:

    Sorry had to comment….Kevin…… Skeletor LMAO….perfect.

  25. DP says:

    I’m against it for the government workers. It’s called my 4th amendment rights. Unless it’s a pre-employment requirement, or do to an injury. I’m sure there are some private sector agency’s that require drug screening, again no problem. Did we as citizens forget about our constitutional rights that were granted to every citizen of the Untied States of America? Scott and Obama are slowly taking them away right under our own eyes. When are we going to wake up to this?
    As for welfare or other assistance oh yea 100% for it. We have way to much abuse of the system now, some of these recipients eat better and drive expensive cars then I do, and I work for a living. ? Oh I know right now the cost -vs- the savings for these test have not shown the result we all are expecting. But eventually will catch one or two and then the domino effect will come.
    As for Rick Scott having a vested interest in the drug testing labs. I wouldn’t be surprised! But will never know as he keeps his personal business dealings private and claims it’s not subject to public disclosure. Just as he did using his own money to get him elected, and how he uses his own Jet for travel, we can’t track it or ask for disclosure.

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