Rick Scott's Drug Testing Dreams Are History

04/21/2015 11:16 am ET | Updated Apr 24, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) has apparently reached the end of his quest to make state workers and welfare recipients provide urine to prove they're not on drugs.

In 2011, Scott sought to impose drug testing on both state workers and poor people applying for benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, better known as "welfare." Following lawsuits from a workers' union and civil liberties advocates, federal courts halted both testing initiatives, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit saying no to Scott's final appeals in December.

On Monday, the Florida chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it had reached a settlement with Scott's administration over his executive order to randomly drug test tens of thousands of state workers.

"Gov. Scott’s executive order rested on his belief that the state has the authority to require anyone it chooses to submit her bodily fluids for government inspection without reason or suspicion," Shalini Goel Agarwal, a staff attorney with the Florida ACLU, said in a written statement.

The settlement, if approved by a court, prevents the state from randomly screening workers in 1,133 out of 1,400 types of state government jobs. Testing can proceed for workers in safety-sensitive positions.

"We are pleased that the settlement will allow Florida to protect families by ensuring state employees working in the most critical areas of safety and security remain drug-free," a Scott spokesman told the Tallahassee Democrat.

Florida will pay the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees $375,000 for its ACLU legal fees, in addition to the nearly $400,000 the Scott administration has spent on its own lawyers.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly suggested the state worker settlement had some bearing on the welfare drug testing case. The two cases are separate.

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