House Approves Suspicionless Drug Testing for Florida State Employees, It's Probably Unconstitutional, and You're Paying For It | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


House Approves Suspicionless Drug Testing for Florida State Employees, It's Probably Unconstitutional, and You're Paying For It

​Drug tests for everybody! The Florida House passed HB 1205 today, voting 79-37 to modify the state's Drug-Free Workplace Act  to allow public agencies to randomly drug-test any of their employees for absolutely no reason.

Despite the lengthy legal challenges associated with Gov. Rick Scott's orders to drug-test state welfare recipients (what Fourth Amendment?), Republican Reps. Jimmie Smith and Fred Costello introduced the bill at the beginning of the year, and now it's headed over to the Senate, where its budget committee is set to vote on it this afternoon.

The current law allows testing for "special-risk or safety-sensitive" state positions, with a special allowance for the Department of Corrections to test all of its employees. If this bill becomes law, all state agencies will be immediately allowed to drug-test not only all job applicants but up to 10 percent of their work force as often as once every three months.

The bill doesn't set aside any extra funding for the testing, so agencies will have to fund it themselves.

If you're wondering about any Supreme Court rulings on this kind of thing, don't worry -- there is one. It's Chandler v. Miller (1997), and it said most suspicionless drug tests were, like, totally not OK.

"To be reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, a search ordinarily must be based on individualized suspicion of wrongdoing," wrote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the majority opinion. "Our precedents establish that the proffered special need for drug testing must be substantial -- important enough... to suppress the Fourth Amendment's normal requirement of individualized suspicion."

Where's the substantial interest, Rep. Smith?

The court was looking at a Georgia statute that required people running for certain public offices to pass a drug test. The court found that, though proponents of the bill made the relatively reasonable assertion that drug use "draws into question an official's judgment and integrity" and "undermines public confidence and trust in elected officials," that wasn't enough. The court ruled that Georgia needed to prove "a concrete danger demanding departure from the Fourth Amendment's main rule."

So, if the Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional to spontaneously drug-test a gubernatorial candidate for heroin, what could possibly justify testing a Florida DMV clerk for weed?

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Rich Abdill

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