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Bittersweet cupcake amendment fails to move GOP lawmakers

by Dara Kam | January 30th, 2012

The state’s neediest families shouldn’t be able to use emergency cash assistance to buy booze, watch strip shows or gamble, most GOP lawmakers agree.

But they’re divided over whether Floridians should be allowed to use food stamps to buy cupcakes, Cokes or candy.

A measure that would impose those prohibitions passed a House committee this afternoon but not before some Republicans on the panel told the bill (HB 1401) sponsor they’d kill the bill if he didn’t trim out the food stamp restrictions, also opposed by retailers, soda companies and convenience store owners.

Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, said he got the message and would consider modifying the measure to get limits on where individuals getting Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) can use their state-issued debit cards.

Rep. Mark Pafford tried to sweeten the bill with a “cupcake amendment” that would have allowed food stamp users to purchase cakes or cupcakes for birthdays.

“It’s just an exception for a child to celebrate a birthday by having a cake or a cupcake,” Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, explained.

But Plakon wouldn’t swallow.

He said that a birthday cake can cost up to $40 while a cake mix costs just $4. Pafford’s amendment failed.

Rep. Dana Young was on the 8-6 winning side in favor of the bill, but let Plakon know it was the end of the line if he doesn’t make the changes.

“I’m all about good nutrition,” Young, R-Tampa, said. “But I don’t want people to tell me what to eat. And I just don’t think it’s right for us as legislators and as a government to tell anyone what they can eat, even if they happen to be poor. Even if they happen to be on food stamps.”

Chances are it won’t matter whether the lawmakers approve the ban on junk food or not.

The feds would have to sign off on a waiver to impose the restrictions. Several states have applied for the waiver but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has denied them all.

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3 Responses to “Bittersweet cupcake amendment fails to move GOP lawmakers”

  1. Sue Carney Says:

    It don’t know why this has infuriated so much- perhaps it’s because it comes down to dignity and respect. Yes even less privileged people have birthdays, and children with birthdays. How self-righteous to deny a child a store bought birthday cake or the occasional candy bar. When accepting assistance the large majority are thankful for what they are given but Plakon comes off with a “they should be thankful for waht they get” attitude. We don’t tell people what they can buy with their unemployment check. We didn’t tell Katrina victims what kind of clothes they could buy but Plakon wants to micromanage what poor people can eat while he goes to $200 a plate rubber chicken dinners. What’s next legislation on 1 ply or 2 ply? Shame on you! You probably had birthdays parties w/ all the bells and whistles when you were a kid – and if you have children I doubt you ever baked them a box cake. Try focusing on an issue that really matters —-and fyi I’m not poor – I make a healthy 6 figures so it won’t impact me but that isn’t the point..

    “Let Them Eat Cake”

  2. Need More Sugar Says:

    I can agree that food stamp ‘money’ should be used for essentials such as food and gas and not liquor, strip clubs, etc, but dictating which foods get bought goes a bit far.

    Maybe instead of giving people a debit card that can be used in an ATM to get cash, give them a card that can only be used at supermarkets, etc and will only deduct funds for purchased food items.

    With computerized cash registers this should not be too difficult to implement.

  3. GHUA Says:

    There is no such thing as junk food unless it’s the residue left on the plates of so many satisfied customers after most meals which could feed so many more. Don’t let buzz words confuse the issue and cut the waste.

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