Florida, which tests welfare recipients for drug and alcohol abuse, is poised to extend drug testing to state public employees – a first-in-the-nation move that lawmakers from other states may copy, even as labor unions, civil libertarians, and small-government advocates rail against it, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Under the law, agency heads may test randomly up to 10 percent of their workforce for illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol, every three months. Elected officials are exempt.
The Republican-backed measure is intended to be a net benefit in that it gives workers who have drug problems a way to get clean, while at the same time protecting the broader citizenry from impaired public servants. Florida state workers are not known to have more substance abuse problems than workers elsewhere. Rather, the new law seems part of a trend to raise accountability for a wide range of people who are receiving taxpayer dollars – be they public employees, welfare recipients, or jobless people collecting unemployment benefits.