Georgia legislators might have spent Valentine's Day sharing a romantic candlelit dinner with a significant other…and a utility lobbyist. The nation's only romance-themed holiday has become a targeted lobbying day at the Georgia statehouse; last year lobbyists spent more than $16,000, with a quarter of that going to meals for legislators and their spouses. But the practice has some shortcomings. Former lawmaker Chuck Clay told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the image of a table for three was "more horrific than anything I can imagine. No romance would be better than that pathetic attempt at romance."
But love is in the air for Alabama's chief executive. After a press conference at a Wal-Mart, Gov. Bob Riley (R) browsed the Valentine's displays by his podium, The Associated Press writes. He said he would give his wife a heart-shaped box of candy - the same gift he's given her every Valentine's Day since they were high school sweethearts. Altogether now: awwwwww .
Two Iowa venues are in hot water with labor commissioner Dave Neil for hosting unauthorized "extreme midget wrestling" shows, The Des Moines Register reports. Wrestling promoters are supposed to post a $5,000 bond and pay taxes on admission. But one nightclub owner argued that the performance by the "Half Pint Brawlers" - whose Web site proclaims, "Midgets bleed for your enjoyment!" - was more of a comedy show than a wrestling match. It might be easier if the state labor commissioner and "Puppet the Psycho Dwarf," who performed in West Des Moines, settled this in the ring.
Along with the flu epidemic, foot-in-mouth disease seems to be spreading among some state lawmakers. Colorado Rep. Larry Liston (R) caused a stir when he called unmarried teenage parents "sluts." He apologized after catching flak from fellow Republicans and his wife. "I'm a whipped puppy," he told the Rocky Mountain News.
Next door, when Utah state Sen. Darin Peterson (R) was corrected about the fiscal note on one of his bills, he answered, "As they say in Arkansas, literacy ain't everything," to the laughter of several colleagues. One Arkansas native now living in Utah pointed out the irony of the Beehive State joking about other states' stereotypes: After all, "people don't come to Utah so much because they're afraid of Mormons," he told The Associated Press .
Florida and Georgia's rivalry moves from the playing field to the legislative halls. Georgia lawmakers are demanding college license plate parity with Florida, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. In Georgia, University of Florida alumni can be issued specialty license plates by getting 1,000 people to sign a petition and paying an extra $25 for each plate. But if a University of Georgia alumni group wants a similar plate issued in Florida, it would have to pay the state $60,000 and hire an independent firm to see if there's interest. A Georgia bill demands reciprocal treatment - or the Gators' new specialty tags will get the ax.