House Passes Bill on Random Drug Testing of State Employees

The Florida House passed HB 1205, a bill that allows all state agencies to randomly drug-test their employees. This was despite disagreements over its legality and with some legal scholars still insisting that it is unconstitutional. SB 1359, said to be an identical version of the House bill, was cleared later on the same day by the Senate Budget Committee. Under the bills, state employees could undergo random drug testing every 3 months. The random sample will affect no more than 10% of the agency’s workforce. Firing an employee after a confirmed positive test may also become easier. Bill sponsor Jimmie Smith said: “We can make a difference for the entire country. The word is on the street: Drugs are bad.” Some law experts don’t think it is constitutional, though. Joseph Little, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law, and Rod Sullivan, a constitutional law professor at Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, said that random testing of employees who are not holding safety-sensitive positions may be unconstitutional. Little said: “There has to be something special about the employment, though, like law enforcement officers or those with a security clearance. But if there’s no special need, you probably can’t do it.” HB 1205 passed by a party-line vote of 79-37. On the other hand, Senate Budget Committee voted 12-6. The bill will then go to a floor vote.

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