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Florida Aims to be First to Test Public Workers

A new extension of Florida’s drug-testing law now allows agency heads to randomly test public workers for illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol, but it exempts the governor and state legislators. This is a first-in-the-nation move that lawmakers from other states may copy, even as labor unions, civil libertarians, and small-government advocates rail against it. Florida already tests welfare recipients for drug and alcohol abuse. Under the law, agency heads are allowed (but not required) to randomly test up to 10% of their workforce every three months. Supporters say the measure is intended to give workers who have drug problems a way to get clean, while at the same time protecting the broader citizenry from impaired public servants. No state yet requires those collecting unemployment to undergo drug testing, but Arizona, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Utah are among those considering it. The US Department of Labor now allows states to require drugs tests for unemployment recipients whose job search is confined to industries that already require drug testing, such as aviation.

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