State employee drug testing bill heads for final vote today

By | 03.09.12 | 8:52 am

State Sen. Alan Hayes, R-Umatilla (Pic by Senator Hays, via flsenate.gov)

Today the Florida Senate will cast its final vote on a bill that would allow state agencies to adopt a policy for randomly drug testing their employees. If passed, the bill will move to the governor’s desk for signature. Labor groups and civil rights advocates have already warned that if the bill is signed into law, it will catapult the state into yet another lawsuit.

Gov. Rick Scott’s last attempt to drug-test state employees was halted and is now in court. A judge is set to rule on that case any day now, and has already expressed concerns over the constitutionality of the law.

State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, the sponsor of the bill, has said during committee meetings that the bill would raise state workers to the same standards as employees of private companies, which he says drug test their employees often. He has also said that his bill is a “preventative” measure that would act as an “early intervention program” for workers with drug problems. He did concede, however, that there are currently no problems regarding state workers on drugs.

During a very short debate over the bill last night, though, state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, questioned whether it was even the “responsibility of the employer” to regulate the behavior or activities of his or her employees.

Negron, an outspoken Libertarian, has spoken out against the bill and voted against it in its last committee stop. He has said that it is “bad policy” that represents a “current trend in our country for more and more intrusion from our government.”

The bill, which at one point failed but was resurrected moments after, has been lobbied for behind the scenes by Gov. Scott, who remains one of the biggest proponents of drug testing state employees.

Civil rights attorneys and labor groups have warned that the bill, if enacted, would be a violation of the fourth amendment and would would likely lead to another lawsuit against the state.

There has also been controversy surrounding whether state legislators, the Governor and the Cabinet would be included in the drug-testing policies. An effort to add a provision requiring legislators to be subject to random drug-tests died before the House version of the bill passed out of the chamber.

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