On a 13-5 vote, the House Judiciary Committee in Florida has approved a bill that would deny benefits to recipients of temporary financial assistance if they fail a drug test. Welfare recipients would need to pass drug tests, which they have to pay for, to receive financial assistance.

HB 353 would deny benefits to welfare recipients for at least one year should they fail a drug test and would kick them off the program for three years should they fail a second time. This does not affect food stamp eligibility, though.

Supporters of this bill maintain that money from taxpayers should not be used to provide financial assistance to recipients who are abusing drugs and possibly using the assistance funds for their drug or alcohol addiction. Denying benefits may push recipients with substance abuse problems to seek help.

According to a feature on The Miami Herald, there are about 113,000 Floridians receiving temporary cash payments under a program by the Department of Children and Families. Both parents in a 2-parent household would have to take separate tests. Each drug test would cost between $10 and $70 per person. Critics insist that requiring all recipients to pay for and pass drug tests would hurt families, including the children, whether or not the parents in the household abuse drugs.

 

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