No Bull, No Fluff, No Smudges
Your news source for
Flagler, Florida and Beyond

Excluding Themselves, Florida Lawmakers Pass Drug-Testing Program for State Workers

| March 4, 2012

A tombstone for your rights. (Dan Buczynski)

The House voted largely along party lines Friday to allow state agencies to set up drug testing programs for their workers over the objection of Democrats who said it wasn’t just unconstitutional, but a bully tactic.

The bill (HB 1205) follows a similar requirement for random drug testing and pre-employment screening put in place a year ago by executive order of Gov. Rick Scott. That order is on hold pending the outcome of a court challenge, with Scott telling most agencies in June to hold off on the plan until the courts rule. The state prisons agency has gone ahead with drug testing of employees, however.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, doesn’t require the drug tests, but would let agencies set up such programs. It limits the number of employees tested to no more than 10 percent of each agency’s workforce every three months.

Much of the debate on Friday was over whether such “suspicionless” drug testing violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which precludes unreasonable searches, and whether the courts would let such a program stand.

Legislative staff has noted in an analysis of the bill that the U.S. Supreme Court has found that “blanked suspicionless searches” may be reasonable and therefore OK in some cases where public safety is at issue. “But where … public safety is not genuinely in jeopardy, the Fourth Amendment precludes the suspicionless search,” the Supreme Court ruled.

The staff also noted that federal courts with jurisdiction over Florida have held that an agency’s random drug testing policy was unconstitutional in a case where it found an employee did not present a “concrete risk of real harm,” and a city’s drug testing law was unconstitutional because the city produced no evidence of drug use among employees.

Several Republicans, however, said the bill had no constitutional problems, and a number noted that it’s fairly common in the private sector.

Smith said drug use is rampant, and argued it makes sense to test as many people as possible. Noting that many businesses now routinely test workers, Smith said testing has become generally accepted in society, likening it to breathalyzer testing by police to test for alcohol use, although opponents note that typically police only test people suspected of drunk driving, rather than issuing random breath tests to people not under suspicion.

“We cannot simply keep arresting people… It’s time to face the problem and use the techniques that work,” said Smith. “It’s common sense.”

Democrats argued also that the attempt to drug test state workers, along with another GOP-led effort to require drug testing for welfare recipients, was mean-spirited, and only possible because those being targeted are relatively powerless. The Legislature refused to require testing of lawmakers, and others in position of power, they noted.

“You’re just being bullies, said Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation. “You can do this to state workers, you can do this to welfare recipients. If you want to change society, let’s do it to the lawyers.

“You know why you won’t do it to the lawyers? Because you won’t get nowhere,” Thurston said. “You pick on people you can bully around.”

Democratic Rep. Mark Pafford introduced an amendment Friday that would have also required legislators to take drug tests, but the amendment was batted back by Republicans. Smith called the amendment “political theater.”

The bill passed 79-37 and now goes to the Senate, where its future is uncertain. Scott has said that drug testing of employees is common sense, and would be expected to sign the measure should it get to his desk.

–News Service of Florida

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

34 Responses for “Excluding Themselves, Florida Lawmakers Pass Drug-Testing Program for State Workers”

  1. Daniel Zo via Facebook says:

    Someone has to challege this to the Supreme Court.

  2. Angela Smith via Facebook says:

    They exempt THEMSELVES??? HYPOCRITES! They are paid by the taxpayers as well; either test ALL state employees, or NONE.

  3. PalmCoast says:

    Taxpayers pay their salary! They drive state and county issued cars of which taxpayers pay for! If they do a state or county job that involves any type of machinery….makes for a “concrete risk of real harm” to themselves and possibly others. I agree with drug testing of welfare recipients..again taxpayer money! Many in the private sector of the work force must do drug testing. A drug free work place is a must!

  4. Jan Reeger says:

    Do as I say do, not as I do.

  5. Liana G says:

    …”Smith said testing has become generally accepted in society, likening it to breathalyzer testing by police to test for alcohol use, although opponents note that typically police only test people suspected of drunk driving, rather than issuing random breath tests to people not under suspicion.”

    It make sense for the police to test under these circumstances, most people probably refrain from driving under the influence for fear of being caught. Random computer generated drug testing in the work place removes selective suspicion which can be based on sex/race/age leading to potential lawsuits.

    While some private sector industries do random drug testing because of the nature of their businesses, other don’t since their business is dependent on genius employees needing this kind of recreational stimulant to feed their creativity. Public sector lawmakers do not fit into this mold so they do need to be tested too. Likewise, they also need to pay their share of increase insurance costs too, another bill that was recently passed that excluded them. And they wonder why they are disliked and resented, ‘The Moon is Down’.

  6. Robert Wilhite says:

    I’m not opposed to drug testing but ALL should be tested.
    I’m loosing my job because Volusia County has a no nicotine policy even off duty which is utterly ridiculous. Been on the same job for 30 plus years and now I’ll be unemoyed. Drug testing? No problem. Telling someone if they can’t use nicotine products off duty is a bit too much.

    • elaygee says:

      How about, you keep your job and keep smoking but you pay another $3,000 a month for health insurance coverage since your self inflicted damage is making you cost 10 times as much in services received as a non smoker?

      Or, you can turn down your health insurance and keep smoking and find your own insurance with the amount of money your employer spends for the non smokers?

      Smoking is a just nicotine delivery system, a drug inhaler, just like pills and liquor

  7. JGA says:

    Where can I go on the internet to find out if a bill has passed, i’m looking for a user friendly site, any suggestions please post a link for me, appreciate it!!

    • FlaglerLive says:

      JGA, this site, Online Sunshine, is your starting point. It’s a relatively easy one-stop for all things relating to the Florida Legislature. Click on either the House or Senate tab, and if you know the number of the bill, entering that (here for the House, right at the top of the Senate’s home page for the Senate) will take you to the bill itself, its full text, its various versions, bill analyses by legislative staff, bill history–which committees the bill has been through–and votes on each bill, if applicable. Take a look at HB1205 for example. That’s the drug-testing bill. You can see its history and so on here.

  8. palmcoaster says:

    These politicians paifd by us should be tested as well, OR NONE IS TESTED!! Less get together and oppose these abuses with outreageous and preferencial exemptions!

  9. This will just be another million dollar waste by the Republican Party of Florida as it
    will again be found unconstitutional as all other blanket testing laws have.
    The real problem lies in the hypocrisy of the Republican “Party of Small Government.”
    they are pandering to the scared seniors. Some day the voters of this state will begin to
    smell the bullshit of this group and demand more than just right wing drooling from
    their elected representatives. This is the type of government voters get when they vote
    lock-step for a party and have no idea of the caliber of the individuals they are electing.
    They are not voting for anything just against something they know not what.
    Reading the comments of Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Inverness, he sounds like the dumbest
    member in the house. His statements are too stupid to even bother to refute. He is another
    Republican elected in 2010 because Obama did not fix everything in two years.
    When all the stupid laws that Glow scott and his cronies passed have finally been thrown
    out by the courts I would guess the wasted Florida taxpayer money may hit $20 million.
    Thanks go out to all the fools who put these @ss-holes in charge.

  10. JGA says:

    Thank you flaglerlive!

  11. NortonSmitty says:

    Let’s not forget that our esteemed Governor Scott owns a chain of drug testing laboratories. What a coincidence! And that even Rush Limbaugh, mufti-millionaire and right wing icon who has been screaming for this for years, was addicted to and busted for Oxycontin and Oxycodone.

    With all of the idiocy coming out of Tallahassee these days, they should be the very first tested. It would explain a lot.

  12. roco says:

    It’s a start.. Maybe when you see city, county or state employees and they’re moving, it’s progress.. Our tax dollars at work. Another way would be to put a mirror under their nose to see if they’re breathing..

  13. John Boy says:

    Not only should Legislators be tested for drugs, they all need to be administered an IQ Test. I think most would fail as their actions make them look as dumb as a box of rocks. The only people that are as dumb as our Legislators are the people who keep electing them, maybe we need to investigate the entire election process, we can’t possibly have that number of dumb the election results profess.

  14. palmcoaster says:

    @Kip Durocher…Nothing less than Kudos!
    @ Smitty. Lets have all the one’s in Tallahassee tested as well!

  15. Jojo says:

    We always have the town idiot that brings up the taxpayers money. Well, we’re all taxpayer’s. What is a “concrete risk of real harm”? Is that likened to normal every day living and working. The State worker who is driving or using machinery and has a heart attack that kills innocent people. Should State workers be medically and physically random tested too. And, why not test Florida legislators like Rep. Richard Steinberg for soliciting unwanted inappropriate texts to a Miami Federal prosecutor who was married. Why should they be immune. Don’t taxpayers pay their till too and litigation costs. I guess, some people would have a heart attack if they knew how their Florida legislators spent their tax money like drunken sailors.

    Oh, yes, now that Scott’s wife owns the piss testing company he transferred to her in name only, just saying $15. a pop each test is not such a bad return on tax payers money. You go girl! We’re the idiots.

  16. agnese says:

    Sounds like Gov. Scott’s looking to pad his own pockets with more unneeded BS. But if it must be he should be first in line and everyone behind him.

  17. James Bong says:

    The State of Florida is full of regulatory agencies employing lawyers, so it’s just a matter of time before the challenge to the Constitutionality of this god-forsaken attempt at fascism comes.

  18. James Bong says:

    Hey Gov, step up to the pee jar, and be the first in line! Leadership! That’s what we need. And let’s have it on TV like the rest of your clowning! The home folks want to see how LONG you will carry on with your peegram.

  19. Bill McGuire says:

    Regardless of one’s political persuasion, a question that keeps recurring in my mind is that we, as American citizens, spend huge sums of monies to capture drug dealers, stop the flow of drugs into the country and otherwise interfere with the supply to demand network. At the same time, for as long as I can remember, governmental attention to eliminating the market is lukewarm at best. Penalizing drug users with a slap on the wrist or confining them in a penal system where drugs can be obtained exacerbates the problem. I wish I had the answer to this social dilemma. But, short of capital punishment for drug users. I can find none. The bottom line is, regardless of your social status, if you are a drug user, you ARE the problem. Having said that, I am not enthusiastic about drug testing any class of citizens because the penalties for drug use are a joke.

  20. some guy says:

    government or those in Government should not be able to pass laws that exclude themself from the law. It is not a R vs D but what is right and fair for all.

  21. Nancy N. says:

    Agree with Smitty and John Boy…it’s obvious they are exempting themselves because from the completely nonsensical statements they keep making a large portion of our state politicians are obviously imbibing something.

    Either that or they have the same IQ as my garden gnome. Or – they believe Mad Men is utopian vision of society and not a historical lesson.

  22. Ed C. says:

    Unfortunately, this is happening all over the country.

  23. ASPC says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Angela Smith. It also needs to be expanded to Unemployment, Food Stamps, and State Welfare recipients.

  24. Nancy N. says:

    @ASPC Gov. Scott already tried forcing testing of most of those groups, despite the fact that such testing has already been declared unconstitutional in other states by Federal courts. That mandate is currently being litigated in the courts, where it will likely also be declared unconstitutional based on the previous precedent – as it should be.

    When did being poor or applying for a job become suspicion that you’d committed a crime that warranted a being subjected to a search? Because that is what a drug test is – a search that in other settings a warrant would be required for.

    I find it highly ironic that the Republicans, who always accuse the Democrats of wanting to create a “nanny state”, are actually the ones trying to attach the exercise of parental powers over who they see as their dependents to the handing out of government benefits. Who is it who wants to create a nanny state again?

  25. Diana says:

    Than drug test welfare recipients as well .
    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  26. Jack says:

    Drug Lord Thanks America for Keeping Drugs Illegal

    The war on drugs is a big joke and a monumental waste of taxpayer dollars. If a drunk isn’t a criminal, and a cigarette addict isn’t a criminal, then who are we fooling?

  27. Eric says:

    I’m hearing new stories each day about lawmakers in different states excluding themselves from drug testing. Amazes me!

  28. palmcoaster says:

    Lets recall them all!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Well them everyone in the private sector should be subject to quarterly urine tests as well. Better yet, let’s make medical care subject to drug tests – no use in saving a drug addicted bane on society. Then, we could require drug tests quarterly simply for being an American. How about that for freedom? You take away one once of freedom, you’ll take away all.

    I have no problem with drug tests administered for a reason and probable cause. We’ll see how it pans put in court. The same issue has been declared unconstitutional in the past and seeing Scott’s personal interest in the money to be had from this contract, I’m surprised more people aren’t outraged. For heavan’s sakes!! Wake up people!!!!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Excuse the spelling errors – typing from a phone ;)

  31. Magicone says:

    The Florida lawmakers have excluded themselves from drug testing because a lot of them would lose their jobs; with those jobs goes their pensions. Just think how many BILLION taxpayers dollars would be saved !! Not to forget that we would have people in office that are drug free; which might make them think clearly before passing such a law. Myself, I am in favor of drug testing. It should be mandatory for anyone seeking a public office, enforcing the law, teaching our children, welfare and food stamp recipients. Just the other day I was approached by an individual at Walmart who offered to pay for my basket full of food with his S.N.A.P card (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) better know as Food Stamps. All I had to do was give him 1/2 of what my bill came to in cash. This is happening all over our country. There is one simple solution to this. Mandatory drug test, lets start with all the employees of Palm Coast. Right from the top Mayor Netts pees first. If everyone employed in this county was fired for peeing dirty, it would open up one hell of a lot of jobs for straight people like myself. Don’t get me wrong I used to be an alcoholic as well as a pothead. I have cleaned up my act. Alcohol is the #1 culprit and it is legal; alcohol continues to ruin peoples lives. If the Federal government could figure out a way to tax marijuana it would sure help our economy as well as solve our overpopulated prison system. But they say that marijuana leads to hard core drug abuse. Myself I started out on my mothers milk. Is that what lead me to where I am now ?

Leave a Reply

Read FlaglerLive's Comment Policy | Subscribe to the Comment Feed rss flaglerlive comment feed rss

More stories on FlaglerLive

Get Email Alerts to FlaglerLive

Enter your email address to get alerts.


suppert flaglerlive flagler live palm coast flagler county news pierre tristam florida
news service of florida
FlaglerLive is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization | P.O. Box 254263, Palm Coast, FL 32135 | Contact the Editor by email | (386) 586-0257 | Sitemap | Log in