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Florida Bill to Drug Test State Employees Passes


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#1 notsofasteddie

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 05:29 PM

Florida Bill to Drug Test State Employees Passes

by Phillip Smith,
March 10, 2012

On the last day of the state's legislative session, the Florida Senate Friday approved a bill allowing state agencies to force their employees to submit to random, suspicionless drug testing. The bill passed on a near party line vote of 26-14.

The measure had already passed the House. Gov. Rick Scott ®, who tried to get state employee drug testing enacted via executive order only to see it blocked at least temporarily by a federal judge's injunction, is certain to sign it.

The measure, House Bill 1205, authorizes state agencies to require that employees submit to random, periodic, suspicionless drug testing. Under the bill, 10% of an agency's work force would be tested every three months. The bill strips out provisions in Florida law limiting drug testing to safety-sensitive positions and makes it easier to fire a worker after a first confirmed positive drug test.

The bill is almost certain to face challenges in the courts, labor leaders and civil libertarians told the Associated Press. The federal courts consider drug testing a search and thus subject to Fourth Amendment proscriptions against warrantless searches. The federal courts have carved out only limited exceptions to the general rule—for safety-sensitive positions, for some police doing drug law enforcement, for some high school students—and have ruled against earlier efforts to drug tests elected officials and welfare recipients.

Rich Templin, legislative director for the Florida AFL-CIO, said the program probably will mean more lawsuits for the state when Scott signs it. AFL-CIO unions represent about 100,000 state employees.

"This is just another attempt to vilify state workers and make them the problem," said Rick Templin, legislative director of the Florida AFL-CIO, who added that the state will see more lawsuits because of the bill.

"State workers don't trade their constitutional rights for a state paycheck or other benefits," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. "Unfortunately, the governor and legislature appear to want to re-learn that lesson over and over again."

One of the few Republicans to vote against the bill said he hadn't seen any evidence that state employees used drugs at a rate any higher than the population at large.

"I haven't been running across drug-addled employees unable to do their job," said Sen. Joe Negron (R-Stuart).

Suspicionless drug testing is "how we lose our liberties," said Sen. Maria Sachs (D-Boca Raton). "What could be more intrusive than a search of your own body?" she asked. "This is one more step down the slippery slope of becoming a nanny state."

"You're talking about testing some clerk at the DMV; what probable cause do you have? This is expanding government for no good reason," said Sen. Chris Smith (D-Ft. Lauderdale).

The bill's senate sponsor, Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) protested that, although the bill makes it easier to fire employees who use drugs, it is designed to help them.

"Think about the preventative aspects," the Umatilla Republican said. "We owe it to our state employees."


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#2 topcat1666

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:38 PM

How about helping state congressmen they get a state pay check and should be save just like other employees.

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#3 notsofasteddie

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Posted 20 March 2012 - 06:05 AM

Florida Governor Signs State Worker Drug Test Bill
by Phillip Smith,
March 20, 2012


Florida Gov. Rick Scott ® has quietly signed a bill that would require state employees to undergo random, suspicionless drug testing. His office announced after normal business hours Monday that the deed had been done.

Florida becomes the first state in the nation to pass such a bill, although other states may follow.

The measure, House Bill 1205, authorizes state agencies to require that employees submit to random, periodic, suspicionless drug testing. Under the bill, 10% of an agency's work force would be tested every three months. The bill strips out provisions in Florida law limiting drug testing to safety-sensitive positions and makes it easier to fire a worker after a first confirmed positive drug test.

Scott had first tried to impose drug testing on state workers via an executive order, but suspended it after it was challenged in the courts. A strong proponent of drug testing, Scott also supported and signed into law a bill last year to require welfare applicants and recipients to undergo drug testing. That law has also met legal challenges and is currently blocked by a federal district court judge's temporary injunction.

This law, too, is certain to face legal challenges, labor leaders and civil libertarians told the Associated Press after it passed the state legislature 10 days ago. The federal courts consider drug testing a search and thus subject to Fourth Amendment proscriptions against warrantless searches. They have carved out only limited exceptions to the general rule -- for safety-sensitive positions, for some police doing drug law enforcement, for some high school students -- and have ruled against earlier efforts to drug test elected officials and welfare recipients.

"This is just another attempt to vilify state workers and make them the problem," said Florida AFL-CIO legislative director Rich Templin. The union represents about 100,000 state employers and has warned this will likely mean more lawsuits for the state.

"State workers don't trade their constitutional rights for a state paycheck or other benefits," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, which is already part of the challenge to the welfare drug testing law. "Unfortunately, the governor and legislature appear to want to re-learn that lesson over and over again."


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#4 notsofasteddie

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 04:03 AM

Judge Rejects Florida State Employee Drug Testing

by Phillip Smith,
April 26, 2012

A federal district court judge in Miami has thrown out Florida Gov. Rick Scott's ® executive order requiring state employees to submit to suspicionless drug tests. The order violates the Fourth Amendment's proscription against unreasonable searches and seizures, the judge ruled.

Gov. Scott, a former health care executive, issued the order calling for random drug testing of all state employees in March 2011, but stayed it in the face of a legal challenge from the ACLU of Florida and the Association of Federal, State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the union representing thousands of state workers.

Scott argued that requiring drug tests was akin to statutory requirements that some state workers make financial disclosures, but US District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro wasn't buying it.

In her Wednesday ruling , Ungaro called Scott's reasoning "hardly transparent and frankly obscure" and said it not did justify violating the Fourth Amendment. "He offers no plausible rationale explaining why the fact that a state employee's work product and financial status are publicly accessible leads to the conclusions that the employee's expectation of privacy in his or her bodily functions and fluids are then diminished," Ungaro wrote.

"The governor can’t order the state to search people’s bodily fluids for no reason – the Constitution prohibits that sort of government intrusion," said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. "And the governor can’t demand that people surrender their constitutional rights for the privilege of working for the state or receiving some other government benefit."

"Today’s ruling is important because it reinforces the bright line which government may not cross," said ACLU cooperating attorney Peter Walsh. "If the state is going to require a drug test as a condition of keeping your job, it needs to have a reason and simply being against drugs isn’t enough."

In a statement Thursday, Scott said he would appeal, but gave no indication he understood the constitutional issues involved.

"As I have repeatedly explained, I believe that drug testing state employees is a common sense means of ensuring a safe, efficient and productive workforce," he said."That is why so many private employers drug-test, and why the public and Florida's taxpayers overwhelmingly support this policy. I respectfully disagree with the court's ruling and will pursue the case on appeal."

Scott is not doing well with his drug testing campaign. A law he backed requiring drug tests for people seeking welfare has been temporarily blocked by a federal district court judge in Orlando, who has indicated she will likely find that measure also unconstitutional.


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