Bills Would OK Random Drug Tests for State Workers

For the second year in a row, state lawmakers are treading on questionable ground by voting to test state workers for drugs.

The House Friday approved random drug testing for state employees. A similar bill has passed the Senate.

The legislation would allow 10 percent of the state’s workforce to be randomly drug tested four times a year.That’s fifty thousand tests each year.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo of Miami says it will make the workplace safer.

“I think it improves the quality of life of public employees,” he said.

But Rep. Rick Kriseman of St Petersburg says initial evidence has found few positive tests.

“The Department of Transportation, with more than six thousand employees, only had two positive tests of over five hundred that were done,” he said.

The idea unleashed a triad of opposition from many, including Rep. Perry Thurston of Ft. Lauderdale.

“You don’t want to do it to the governor, you don’t want to do it to us," he said. "I tell you, what you are doing, you’re being bullies.”

Thurston referred to an unsuccessful attempt to amend the bill to include the legislature and the executive branch. It failed after lawmakers argued they could already be required under their rules to submit to random drug tests, although no such tests have ever been ordered.

Rep. Irv Slosberg of Palm Beach doesn’t want to do it either.

“It’s all about forgiveness," he said. "People make mistakes in life and we have to forgive them, and we have to try and work with them.”

Last year's legislation ordering drug testing for welfare recipients has been put on hold. That law made Florida a national joke on a comedy news show.

Lawmakers like Rep. Scott Plakon of Longwood say they don’t care.

“It is our job to make good public policy that we think benefits all Floridians, and that’s what this is,” he said.

And Ronald Bilbao, the ACLU legislative coordinator, says there is little doubt that if the random tests are signed into law, it’ll go straight to court.

“Random, suspicion-less drug testing, absent a safety sensitive position, by the government, is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment,” he said.

While ordering the tests, lawmakers gave agencies no cash, forcing them to cut elsewhere to carry out the law.

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  • by Brian Location: Panama City on Mar 4, 2012 at 06:46 PM
    I think that you should have to show a photo ID and birth certificate as well as undergo a drug test in order to vote. We all know which political party would suffer voter attrition if that happened. :-)
    • reply
      by Slushy on Mar 5, 2012 at 10:23 AM in reply to Brian
      George W did cocaine.
  • by I. Arlyin Location: Florida on Mar 4, 2012 at 03:20 PM
    My son works in a manufactoring warehouse and if he has to under go a drug test in order to keep his job, the rest of you employed people can under go test to.It's just to ensure that a better quality of work is being done and to cut down on possible accidents in the work place.
  • by Mike Location: pc on Mar 4, 2012 at 10:15 AM
    They need to do BREATHALIZER tests on all State Reps, the governor and Employees everyday as this is almost free, alot cheaper and most Reps come back from lunch under the influence and they are out driving on our roads. Random drug tests are a waste of time and money and it has been proven. The only one making out is the TESTING company that the Governor and his family most likely have financial interests in. It's payback time for the money he spent to buy his election. Alcohol, should be outlawed as it's a proven killer and more dangerous than heroin. Make them BLOW!
  • by Sandy Location: Panama City on Mar 4, 2012 at 09:10 AM
    I look forward to the day when we can replace the state workers with robots. I believe that robots have a place in our society and that they can be programmed to do many things. People in Japan have robot pets and they are happy. I would like to see robot children replace real children because real children do become hurt in accidents and that places a burden on real people. If a robot child were to become hurt, it would be possible to just replace the sub-component that was damaged, and keep the main memory banks intact. I would like to see more government research in this area and I look towards the day when every state office and every playground are full of fascinating robots.
  • by Mike Location: PC on Mar 4, 2012 at 07:58 AM
    HJW - The story is about drug testing..not food stamps. And your taxes aren't any lower or higher because of food stamps...go belly ache somewhere else.
  • by local Location: pc on Mar 4, 2012 at 05:57 AM
    The only problem I see with these random drug tests is that people know when they are going to be tested. The last time they tested welfare recipients randomly everyone knew over a month in advance when they would be tested. In order to be effective it needs to actually be random ( unannounced ). I personally think anyone getting money from society needs to be tested.
  • by HJW Location: PC on Mar 3, 2012 at 09:37 AM
    If we test goverment officials(and i think we should) then we should also test welfare recipients because as it stands they to are state employees. Example:to be employeed means you recieve a wage to perform a service,their service in most cases just happens to be repopulating america at tax payers expense and flashing their "EBT" credit-look a like card in front of my broke tax paying face in the check out line at the grocery store.So why not hold each group to the same standard I am held to in order to maintain my own job so I can continue to have my hard earned money sucked away from my wallet and into the hands of the almigty goverment and the EBT Baby Boomers! I say EQUALITY FOR ALL!
  • by Debby Location: Panama City on Mar 3, 2012 at 08:17 AM
    How come the Republicans in Tallahassee don't want to drug test themselves but they do everyone else? They control both the House and Senate and could implement it tomorrow. The Republicans in Tallahassee are also wasting tax money drug testing welfare recipients - the vast majority of which PASS! It costs millions to drug test welfare recipients and they haven't saved any money in welfare payments doing so. More government intrusive for no reason at all.
  • by David Location: pcb on Mar 2, 2012 at 03:14 PM
    • reply
      by Debby on Mar 3, 2012 at 08:21 AM in reply to David
      Not only is drug testing not accomplishing anything - it's a waste of taxpayer money. You are right. It would be quite easy to just drug test those who are suspected of being impaired. It makes much more sense to target those who are displaying symptoms of drugs or alcohol and saves wasting taxpayer money.
  • by Duane Location: florida on Mar 2, 2012 at 03:02 PM
    WHAT????? You mean they have to do undergo random drug tests, and contribute to their own pension too??? This sounds just like everyday working class people!!! That's not fair....IF THEY FIGHT DRUG TESTING, CHANCES ARE THEY ARE GUILTY!!!!!!!!!!
    • reply
      by Debby on Mar 3, 2012 at 08:18 AM in reply to Duane
      No state workers have fought drug testing. Only the ACLU and Democrats. Get your facts straight.
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