Legislators avoid voting on amendment that would impose random drug-testing on them

State Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach (Pic by Meredith Geddings, via myfloridahouse.gov)

During a Friday debate over a bill that would allow state agencies to impose random drug testing on state employees, House members avoided debating and voting on an amendment that would include them in those policies.

State Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, introduced an amendment on the floor that included “members of the Legislature and legislative staff members, the Governor and the Cabinet, and professional staff of the Executive Office of the Governor and the Cabinet” in the drug testing program.

As the bill is currently written, legislators would be exempt from the drug-testing policy.

The amendment was introduced yesterday by state Rep. Alan Williams, D-Tallahassee, but was withdrawn before a vote could be taken.

Pafford tried to get members to vote on it today but the sponsor of the bill, state Rep. Jimmie Smith, R-Lecanto, asked the Speaker of the House not to take it up. The Speaker capitulated, and a majority of members voted not to take the amendment up.

Pafford told members that avoiding to vote on the amendment was an example that the legislative body is “elitist” and “not prepared to lead by example.”

“Shame on you,” he told members.

Smith’s bill has been criticized by state employees, labor groups and civil rights groups as it has made its way through both the House and Senate. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has warned state lawmakers that the law is “unconstitutional” and “duplicative.” Last year’s attempt by Gov. Rick Scott to drug-test state employees was halted and is now in court.