A bill that would require Florida welfare applicants with prior drug-related convictions to submit to mandatory drug testing was advanced by a House panel on Tuesday over the objections of Democrats who view the move as unconstitutional.

The measure considered Tuesday would also require applicants suspected of being on drugs to pay for the drug test before they can receive cash assistance from the government.

Under the bill, applicants who pass the test are reimbursed for the cost. But those who don’t would lose benefits for a year, or they could reapply after six months if they complete a substance abuse program at their expense.

A similar 2011 law requiring drug screenings for all welfare benefit applicants was declared an unconstitutional search and seizure by a U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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