House OKs welfare drug testing
TALLAHASSEE -- Welfare applicants would have to pay for drug tests but they’d get reimbursed if they pass under a bill that cleared the Florida House on Tuesday.
The chamber passed the bill (HB 353) on a largely party line 78-38 vote, with most Republicans in favor and Democrats against. The legislation is one of Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s priorities.
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GOP lawmakers argued that it’s only fair for those seeking temporary assistance to be drug tested because many taxpayers also get tested at their workplaces.
“When folks are receiving assistance on your dime and my dime and they’re using the money to go smoke doobies or get doped up or take crack then that demonstrates to me that they don’t want to help themselves,” said Rep. Brad Drake.
“So why should we spend taxpayer dollars on helping folks who don’t want to help themselves?” the Eucheeanna Republican said.
Opponents including St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes cited a 2002 federal appeal court ruling that struck down a similar program in Michigan. The court ruled that random or universal testing of welfare recipients violates their privacy rights if there’s no suspicion they are using drugs.
The bill next goes to the Senate where similar legislation (SB 353) is awaiting a floor vote.
House passes ‘Good Samaritan’ law on 911 calls
A bill that would prevent criminal charges against anyone who calls 911 to report a drug overdose has been unanimously approved by the Florida House.
The bill (HB 91) is called the “911 Good Samaritan Act” and next goes to the Senate.
A staff analysis explains that users often do drugs together. The measure would encourage people to call 911 for help if they knew someone else with them was overdosing and could be sure they themselves wouldn’t get arrested on drug charges.
The bill also ensures that charges wouldn’t be filed against the person needing medical help.
-- Herald wire reports
House approves bill on doctors’ gun talk
The Florida House has approved a bill that would restrict what kind of conversations doctors can have with patients about guns in the home.
The bill (HB 155) was passed by a party-line vote of 88-30. It now goes to the Senate, where it has a companion measure (SB 432).
The House bill was touted as a compromise between the National Rifle Association and the Florida Medical Association. A group of pediatricians still opposes the measure and say it intrudes on the doctor-patient relationship.
The bill would allow doctors to ask about guns in the home only if a good-faith concern exists that there is a health or safety threat involved.
Scott still upbeat on Florida corporate tax cut
Gov. Rick Scott says he’s still confident Florida lawmakers will cut taxes.
Scott maintained that upbeat attitude Tuesday, just a day after his latest proposal to phase out Florida’s corporate income tax was tabled by a Senate committee.
The panel isn’t scheduled to meet again before the legislative session ends on May 6.
A similar House measure hasn’t even had a committee hearing, and neither chamber has budgeted for such a tax cut.
Scott previously suggested he’d veto the budget unless it includes a corporate tax cut, but he dodged the question Tuesday.
The Republican governor, instead, responded he was “confident that the right thing will happen.”
-- Associated Press