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House subcommittee rejects ban on sweets for food stamps

A House panel on Monday defeated a measure that would ban food-stamp users from purchasing sweets, sodas and salty snacks. 

The proposal was part of a controversial bill from Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, meant to reform the electronic benefit transfer program -- and promote healthy eating.

Critics, however, said government had no business dictating Floridians' grocery lists.

On Monday, Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, introduced a pair of amendments that substantially changed the bill. The first removed the ban on sweets, snacks and sodas.

Young's amendment passed unanimously.

"I will definitely come down on the side of us not being big government and telling people exactly what to eat," said Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala. "Thank God there is still freedom and a fat guy can get a Coke once in a while."

The second amendment eased a proposed ban on EBT purchases at establishments with liquor licenses. Young worried it inadvertently included grocery stores and gas stations, which can also be licensed to sell beer and wine.

That amendment passed, too. Now the ban applies to liquor stores and bottle clubs.

The amended bill passed by a 9-5 vote.

Before the meeting adjourned, Young urged her colleagues to "be mindful" of the fact that the Senate version still has the ban on sweets.