Drug Testing State Workers Passes

Legislation authorizing random drug testing of state employees is on its way to the Governor for approval. The measure cleared the state Senate by a vote of 26 to 14 Friday, but the drug testing is a long way from becoming reality.

Up to 50 thousand drug tests could be given to state workers a year under the legislation. The tests are optional agency by agency, and to prevent retaliation, a computer would have to decide who is tested.

Senator Evelyn Lynn of Ormond Beach voted yes on the bill, despite saying this. “I think there is something really wrong with this bill.”

What’s wrong says Lynn is that lawmakers themselves are exempt from the tests. Others, including Sen. Bill Montford of Tallahassee asked... “The old advertisement, where’s the beef? Where’s the problem. I don’t see where we have a problem.”

Republican Joe Negron of Stuart called the tests invasive. “The police can’t come and take your urine without getting a search warrant.”

“26 yeas, 14 nays”

Supporters say drug testing will make the workplace safer. They were forced to make the bill less punitive than the original version. Sen. Alan Hays of Lake County says it will now be tougher to fire someone who tests positive. “If you have a positive test, before any action can be taken, it has to be confirmed with a second test. And then we have a series of steps that can be put into place for them to enter a rehab program.”

The bill now goes to the Governor, and he is almost certain to sign it. That’s because he tried to implement drug testing with an executive order last year, and backtracked when the courts got involved.

Civil liberties groups say courts have already ruled the random testing is unconstitutional. They plan a challenge as soon as the bill is signed.

Last year, lawmakers passed legislation requiring welfare recipients to be drug tested. Initial results found two percent testing positive, but the Federal courts stopped the testing within months o fits implementation.

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