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Scott signs state employee drug testing law, opponents say they'll sue again

Drug testing state employees just became an option for state agencies, after Governor Rick Scott signed the bill into law late Monday. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, opponents say the state should be prepared to be taken to court.

Maria Kayanan is with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the group currently challenging a 2011 executive order by the Governor to randomly drug test state employees.

Employees of state agencies do not lose their constitutional rights, simply because they are employed by the Government.”

Now that Governor Rick Scott has signed a bill into law that would essentially do the same thing, the ACLU is putting the state on notice.

“Litigation is always an option that we consider, and no one should be surprised if this ends up in court.”

One agency head who’s not surprised by the bill’s potential for litigation is Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi. She says she can’t comment, except to say:

“I would go out on a limb and say I would anticipate litigation involved in the drug testing, yes.”

Governor Scott seems unconcerned about impending litigation. He says drug testing state workers is the right thing do for the state.

“Just like a private company, you want to have a productive workforce, a qualified workforce. I think all citizens of Florida deserve that and that’s why I signed the bill.”

The bill goes into effect July 1st of this year. It allows state agencies to randomly drug test 10-percent of their workforce once every three months, and the agencies have to foot the bill as well.

Scott says he already has drug testing policies in place at the Governor’s office, and with this new law, he will “absolutely” be asking all of his agency heads to implement the same policies.


Update: Scott made those comments following a Cabinet Meeting Tuesday. However,  hours later, a memo was issued to Scott's agency heads. It said all state agencies, with the exception of the Department of Corrections, should wait before implementing the drug testing policies in the workplace, while a legal challenge to his 2011 executive order is still ongoing. The memo also said Scott remains confident that the lawsuit will be resolved in the state's favor.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.