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Welfare Drug Tests Proposed For Drug Offenders in Florida


Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala and his son, Rep. Chris Latvala, proposed measures Wednesday that would require drug tests for public-assistance applicants who have drug-related criminal records.

The similar bills (SB 1392 and HB 1117) focus on people applying for benefits in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, program. They would require drug tests for applicants who have previous felony convictions for drug crimes or who have a "documented history of multiple arrests" for drug use or possession within the past 10 years.

Such applicants who test positive for drugs would be ineligible for TANF benefits for two years, though they could reapply after six months if they receive substance-abuse treatment. Also, the bills would allow the applicants' children to receive TANF benefits.

The proposals, filed for the legislative session that starts Tuesday, came more than two years after a federal appeals court rejected Gov. Rick Scott's attempt to require broader drug testing of TANF applicants. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in December 2014 that Scott's proposal violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government.

Health News Florida is now part of WUSF Public Media in Tampa, Florida.