Like private employees, state employees are currently only drug tested when they are first hired or if suspicion arises, as constantly drug-testing employees without reason is too costly and intrusive.
That’s why Rick Scott’s executive order to require state employees to be drug tested at least every three months, despite no evidence of wide spread drug abuse among state employees, shows a lack of logic, leadership skills and fairness on the governor’s behalf.
“The state of Florida cannot force people to surrender their constitutional rights in order to work for the state. Absent any evidence of illegal drug use, or assigned a safety-sensitive job, people have a right to be left alone,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), in a statement released last month.
Beyond being a possible violation of state employees’ constitutional rights, the maneuver may come with enormous legal costs. Employees will understandably fight the intrusive maneuver in court, but that may just be the tip of the financial iceberg.
The drug tests can cost the state about $90 each, which can add up quickly when considering the thousands of state employees who may take them four times a year. According to the Palm Beach Post, a North Florida program to test only 8,979 welfare applicants in 1998 cost the state $2.7 million.
It also found that 96 percent of welfare recipients tested negative, though Scott now wants welfare applicants to undergo a drug test, but at their own cost.
One can only hope, a judge will rule against the lunacy, as a federal judge did to a similar measure in 2004 involving the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, according to the ACLU.
Scott consistently claims that he’s a business leader and that he’ll run the state using the same mentality and techniques.
Yet, treating employees as if they’re criminals – even though many Floridians serving criminal probation are drug tested less often – is a bad way for any business owner to treat his staff and a great way to waste company funds. Scott should understand this.
The state of Florida can’t afford this lack of financial restraint and personal respect for state employees, who should be treated with the same respect as employees in the private sector.
Scott must reconsider this drastic action or else his already dismal 32 percent approval rating and 55 percent disapproval rating in just his first three months in office, according to Public Policy Polling firm, may grow worse.