Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Drop that Twinkie, because Sen. Ronda Storms knows best

Up in Tallahassee, the irrepressible Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Ronda Knows Best, wants to peek into the grocery carts of poor people and tell them what they can't buy with food stamps — a push that's getting the not-shy Storms attention from National Public Radio to the New York Times.

Should Senate Bill 1658 become law, food stamps could not be used in Florida for "nonstaple, unhealthy foods," as in sugary drinks, sweets from Jell-O to candy to Popsicles to muffins, anything with trans fats, or salty foods including chips, popcorn and pretzels.

And maybe you're saying: Well, why not?

First, a clarification here, so we don't get distracted by red herrings: This law is not about people using food stamps for prime rib and crab legs while the rest of us worry over the price of ground beef. (The average monthly benefit in Florida, by the way, is $167 per person.) It's also not about people using food stamps for alcohol, cigarettes or hot food, which already are not allowed. It's about banning snack foods like Pepsi and Oreos to poor people on government assistance. Storms calls it "No Twinkie Left Behind."

No question, we need to eat healthier. Childhood obesity is alarming. Pushing education, exercise and smart food choices starting with kids are excellent trends.

But I am fascinated when tea party types argue for more government interference, so long as they are not the ones interfered with. You won't likely see the same enthusiasm for, say, a push like one in Massachusetts to heavily tax candy and soda and use the money for nutrition education. (Imagine the rallying cry: "You'll get my Mountain Dew when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!") Because this would be Big Government! A nanny state! And also not just against the needy.

And I haven't noticed our government trying to save us from all that sugar and salt loaded into vending machines at rest stops along our state's highways, either.

And no, the No-Duh Senate ethics bill in the news this week wasn't about telling people what to eat. But wouldn't it be nice to think the effort to keep lawmakers from influencing legislation that could benefit themselves had a shot? Apparently your average lovebug approaching a fast-moving bumper has a better chance of survival.

Storms knows similar attempts to regulate food choices have been shut down in other states by the federal government, but hopes enough jurisdictions wanting this will be a "tipping point." When another senator, a fellow Republican by the way, said it seemed unfair a poor kid couldn't get a birthday cake under this bill, Storms shot back that parents can make their own like she does. Baking a cake from scratch still requires time, and money, by the way.

But there's a much bigger point here: It's easy to demonize people on welfare when the economy is this bad, just as we already have with a new (if embattled) law requiring drug testing for welfare recipients.

Buried in this bill is a bit of common sense and even dignity in a requirement for "culturally sensitive campaigns" to help people on food stamps make better choices. We could even come up with creative ways to reward those choices.

But it's easier to shake your finger and say government knows best, so long as government's not talking about you.

Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18