Bloomberg News

Florida’s Scott Insistent on Drug Tests for All State Employees

September 28, 2011

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Florida Governor Rick Scott said he intends to press for drug testing of all state employees after restricting the screening to a single department in June.

The first-term Republican ordered the random tests in March and suspended them for all agencies other than the Corrections Department after an employee union sued. Scott said today that the requirement is a “logical” way to ensure that tax dollars are well spent.

“How many private employers drug-screen workers? A lot do,” Scott told a Miami meeting of business leaders. “Why? You want to have a workforce that you know is doing the right things. Shouldn’t your state workers do that?”

When asked after the speech when he would implement full testing of employees under his control, he said: “We will, I’m not sure when.”

Scott, 58, a former hospital-chain chief executive, promised in his campaign to run the state more like a business. He backed legislation requiring state employees to contribute 3 percent of their salaries to their pensions and a law that links teacher pay to student performance.

Florida would become the first state to randomly drug test state employees who aren’t involved in safety-sensitive work, said Alma Gonzalez, special counsel for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ Florida unit. The union sued on May 31, alleging that the test amounts to an unlawful search.

“It would represent a rewrite of the United States Constitution,” Gonzalez said. “Apparently they believe there’s a different way to try to undo those constitutional protections.”

The Corrections Department tested about 21,000 workers before Scott took office and now tests an additional 6,000 because of the governor’s order, said Jo Ellyn Rackleff, a spokeswoman.

--Editor: Jerry Hart, Ted Bunker

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To contact the reporter on this story: Simone Baribeau in Miami at sbaribeau@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net.


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