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Courts / Law

Welfare Drug-Testing Plan Targeted

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U.S. General Services Administration

Following earlier legal victories, the American Civil Liberties of Union of Florida and other groups asked a federal appeals court this week to find that Gov. Rick Scott's attempts to require drug testing for public-assistance recipients is unconstitutional. 

Attorneys for the groups filed a brief Monday asking the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a district judge's ruling in December that Scott's program would violate 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. 

Scott wants to require drug testing as a condition for welfare applicants receiving benefits in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The appeals court last year upheld a preliminary injunction against the program, which Scott announced in 2011.

The newly filed brief said the Scott administration failed to show a special need to justify drug testing, adding such rationales "cannot be symbolic; they must be substantial."  The brief also said: "The hazard asserted by the state in this case --- rampant illegal drug use by TANF applicants ---is no less hypothetical now than it was on this court’s review of the preliminary injunction."

Scott's lawyers, however, filed a brief last month arguing there is a "demonstrated problem with drug use" among people receiving public assistance. The ACLU sued the state on behalf of Luis Lebron, a Navy veteran and single father.

Scott Signs Bills On Alzheimer's, Cancer Centers

Gov. Rick Scott also signed a trio of health care-related bills Wednesday. 
 
Two bills (HB 709 and HB 711) address Alzheimer's and other memory-robbing diseases, while the third (HB 5203) creates the Florida Consortium of National Cancer Institute Centers Program at the Department of Health.

The consortium will be charged with allocating money, estimated by the governor's office at about $60 million a year, to cancer centers.

Of the bills dealing with memory-related diseases, (HB 709) requires the Division of Emergency Management to develop a special-needs shelter program for people with such diseases, creates a grant advisory board to make funding recommendations to the state surgeon general about Alzheimer's treatment and research, and establishes the Ed and Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program within the Department of Health to fund research leading to the prevention of, or a cure for, Alzheimer’s disease.

The state's $77 billion budget includes $3 million for the Ed and Ethel Moore program.