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I had originally planned to write a Friday night news dump weekly update of the Florida legislature’s actions while it’s in session, but not only can't I promise it will be weekly, I can't promise it will be limited to the legislature.  The crazy, wingnut nonsense has infected all branches of state government, and I have put on my waders and offer these tidbits for your amusement and/or edification.

In Executive Branch news this week, one of the more interesting power grabs is Agriculture Commissioner Howdy Doody Adam Putnam’s attempt to wrest control of the school lunch program from the Educational Department.  The reason he has given for wanting to make the change is that Florida produces so much produce ;-) which could be better incorporated into school lunches if the Agriculture Department was in charge.  

But, of course, like almost everything done by the TGOP, it appears Putnam may have an ulterior motive.  Aided and abetted in his cause by Democratic Tool Gary (No Pants on the Ground) Siplin, Putnam is worried that the proposed ban on flavored milk in school would hurt dairy farmers, and it seems this may be his way to ensure our kids stay fat.  Siplin's role in supporting Putnam is less clear--perhaps he's thinking fat kids are less likely to have their pants fall down.

A half-pint of flavored milk has a lot of sugar — 30 grams each for the vanilla and strawberry varieties made by T.G. Lee compared with 13 grams in plain milk. Eight ounces of one of those flavored milks exceeds the American Heart Association's recommendation of no more than 12 grams of added sugar a day for children ages 4 to 8.

In other news, Governor Sick Rott, er, Rick Scott’s, anti-government stance apparently led him to populate state government with fresh-faced outsiders.  Really, really fresh-faced outsiders.

Scott is leaning on dozens of campaign staffers hired into key state government positions – who do everything from implementing policies in state agencies and lobbying lawmakers, to plotting his own daily schedule.

Most are young, fresh out of college, with no previous government experience. Some asked why they were being placed in agencies where they had no background. But in a classic case of a campaign taking advantage of the spoils of victory, they're now holding down state jobs paying $40,000 a year and up.

After all, what is government for, if not to reward one’s campaign workers with jobs for which they have absolutely no education or training?  Our hairless leader has made it clear that we must cut government to the bone.  Except, of course for his own office, where he wants the budget expanded by $343 million.  A year.  At the same time he’s proposing cuts to the Department of Children and Families’ budget of $179 million. Mr. “Let’s Get to Work” wants to eliminate 1,849 jobs there-- a 14 percent reduction in DCF’s workforce. Perhaps some of these workers can apply for the 91 jobs he plans to add to his staff with that $343 million.  I wonder if that $343 million will be divided equally among the new 91 hires?  For almost $4 million a year, I might consider going over to the dark side.

 Florida already ranks near the bottom of almost every child welfare statistic.  With a little work, we can nail that last-place mark!  But the new DCF Secretary has a plan:

"I believe in the protective power and prayer and hope,” Governor Rick Scott’s Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins said at a stop in Miami last week.

Much more useful than having actual caseworkers on the job, I guess.  Cheaper, too!

And don’t miss more Rick Scott news, documented by Flotsaminawebsea.  

Not to be outdone by the Executive Branch, a committee of the Legislature passed a massive “caveat emptor” deregulation bill which, if approved by the full House and Senate would eliminate government oversight of everything from travel agents to home inspectors to auto mechanics.  

Other sections of the bill, meanwhile, would cut state oversight of the time-share industry. No more, for instance, would government regulators review offering documents by time-share builders to ensure they include adequate disclosures for consumers or in advertising materials to ensure they aren't misleading.
It was enough to bring even Florida's best-known employer — Walt Disney World — out in opposition.

Brian Bibeau, a lobbyist for the resort, pointed out that the state began regulating the time-share industry in the 1980s to weed out shady developers who gave the industry a seedy reputation that it has spent years trying to shed.

The bill advanced on a (surprise) party-line vote of 10 to 5.  

The House and Senate have both passed teacher merit pay bills, although with Governor Skeletor cutting the education budget to the bone, no one is really sure where the money for this grand debacle idea will come from.  Although there may be no money in the budget to actually pay more to high-performing teachers, the bills will get rid of tenure for new hires, which should be a huge incentive to recruiting the best and the brightest.  As any elementary school kid would say---NOT!

And those new teachers may be free to teach “Intelligent design” in the schools.  In the words of the legislator proposing the bill:

Why do we still have apes if we came from them?

To which I would ask, “Why is your name Wise when you so clearly aren’t?”

I’m sure I missed a few goodies, but that’s my Friday wrap-up from the stupid Sunshine State.

Originally posted to puzzled on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by DKos Florida.

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