A Senate committee cleared a plan this morning that would require people seeking temporary cash assistance to pay for drug tests.

Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Gainesville, the former Alachua County Sheriff who is supporting the measure, said the measure is intended to keep taxpayer money out of the hands of drug users, and to “break the cycle of drug abuse” among the poor and the unemployed.

Under the measure, anyone who tests positive can be denied assistance for one year. An amendment added today would allow them to seek benefits after six months if they complete a drug treatment program, also at their own expense unless they already qualify for government-sponsored treatment.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, said the amendment would help, but was concerned that not everyone in the state can easily access subsidized treatment. Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise, said lawmakers should hold off on the measure “until we’re in a better position to help people” (in other words, not this budget year).

The measure passed along party lines, with Rich and Sobel opposing.

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Many True the Vote goals already a reality in Florida

Earlier today, Mary Tuma of The Texas Independent reported on this weekend's True the Vote conference hosted by the Houston-based tea party group King Street Patriots. The group announced its intention to replicate its 'voter fraud'-fighting efforts in several other states, including Florida, but Sunshine State law already addresses many of the issues True the Vote says it wants to correct.