Orange County Republican Dean Cannon was named speaker of the Florida House of Representatives in 2010. Because he was first elected in 2004, he's getting term-limited out of office this year.
In commemoration, Cannon's official portrait was unveiled on the House floor yesterday and hung in the chamber.
Speaking of chambers, Cannon also got a gift -- a $1,000 double-barrel shotgun.
Yup -- Cannon was given a Beretta 686 shotgun yesterday, according to the Miami Herald, out of appreciation for his service to the House. Though everyone in Florida seems to have a gun either at home or currently in their hands, we came up with four other gifts that would have been more indicative of the legislation the House passed under Cannon this session. "Cannon/shotgun" jokes aside, here they are:
1. A Bible
The House made a great stride in the government-approved advertising of religion this session, passing a bill saying it's OK for Florida school districts to allow prayer in public schools even though there are quite a few Supreme Court cases that shot down things like this decades ago.
Why it's a good gift: It's a fun story and a bestseller -- it just happens to be the one book not meant for public schools.
2. A urine sample cup
Another bill passed by the House last week approved suspicionless drug testing for all state employees. Yes, there is a Supreme Court decision about a similar case (Chandler v. Miller), and yes, it did say it was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Why it's a good gift: One little plastic cup is a lot cheaper than a big, shiny shotgun -- a small step forward for fiscal responsibility right before the giant step backward when state agencies start shelling out big bucks to test DMV clerks for ganja use.
3. A uterus
The House last Friday passed HB 277, a bill that increases restrictions on abortion clinics and forces doctors to explain to patients which parts of the abortion procedure will cause their 20-week-old fetuses to feel pain -- even though there's reliable research that says 20-week-old fetuses can't feel anything. That wasn't enough to bother House Republicans, who decided they knew better and stepped in directly between doctors and patients to say exactly what needs to be done.
Why it's a good gift: Maybe having a uterus of his own would make Cannon realize that it's best cared for by people who went to medical school and not law school. They'd have to be careful announcing the gift, though -- House Republicans under then-Speaker Larry Cretul got all bent out of shape last spring when Orlando Rep. Scott Randolph suggested Republicans wouldn't want to regulate his wife's uterus if it was a corporation. Randolph was chastised for saying the word uterus in front of young, impressionable pages, as if hearing the name of a body part that they actually possess is more harmful than hearing some of the stupid arguments being made on the floor every day.
4. A lawn of poo
Perhaps too aggressive for an end-of-term gift, but it's my favorite unit of measurement. Plus, it's the gift the House may have given some of the state's 2.6 million septic tank owners when it passed HB 999 on February 29. The bill would repeal a 2010 law requiring septic tanks to be inspected every five years. Before the law passed, around 1 percent of the state's septic tanks were being inspected at all, with failing septic systems contaminating groundwater, officials told PolitiFact.
The bill will, in most scenarios, end up resulting in more inspections than "practically none," but most people will still be free to forgo inspection until their crap has quite literally bubbled up to the surface.
Why it's a good gift: It's free to make with a few productive volunteers. Human waste is a popular fertilizer in some parts of the world, plus it would serve as a smelly argument for why there should probably be some government oversight of people who keep feces-filled submarines buried in their yards.