Next time you get gas you might notice a new sticker on the pump featuring state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s face in front of a background of bright yellow, green and blue blocks. Fried’s staff says the new sticker is intended to attract attention and raise awareness about fraud and the use of gas pump skimmers. But the new design doesn’t seem to be popular with the legislature.
“I mean I think it's dope. She’s a female. Usually it's males that run a lot of these things. I think that’s dope. But I’ve honestly never even paid attention to one of these stickers,” Lexi McDuffy said as she stopped to fill her tank on the way home from work.
The new stickers are a change from the old decals former Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam used, which featured the Florida Department of Agriculture’s logo. Putnam’s sticker used a QR code to direct consumers with concerns about fraud to an online help site. Fried’s new version lists a web address and phone number under her photo. McDuffy said she doesn’t see a problem with the change.
“She deserves it. She deserves it. The President puts his face everywhere. She deserves it. I think that’s cool,” McDuffy said.
Wayne Salvhus, who also stopped to pump some gas, said he likes the idea of knowing who is in charge of protecting consumers at the pump. He doesn’t see the stickers as promotional.
“Maybe not promoting herself, maybe putting herself out there. If something happens somebody might say ‘hey, we know who this woman is’ and go chase her down, you know. I don’t think it’s promoting anything. It’s showing who is taking care of the business," Salvhus said.
But lawmakers have a different take on the matter. House Speaker Jose Oliva spoke with reporters about the issue following the close of the legislative session.
“I think our official documents should look like our official documents. I’ve never been a fan of specialty plates because I think we don’t specialize our birth certificates. We don’t put special messages on our social security. I think official documents are official documents and they should stay that way," Oliva said.
Fried, a Democrat started putting the new stickers up weeks ago. So far the department has replaced more than 84,000 of the old decals. But during conference negotiations on the budget, the Republican controlled legislature added language to the implementing bill that limits gas pump stickers to using letters, numbers and the department’s logo. Senate Appropriations Chairman Rob Bradley said the move wasn’t directed specifically toward Fried.
“It’s not meant to be disrespectful at any one individual or any groups of individuals. I think its just good public policy,” Bradley said.
Bradley said it’s important to ensure official notices are purely focused on business.
“To the extent that we can ensure that those displays for gas pumps or elevators or anything else. DBPR, or any other state agency when they have to put a sticker on it to let the public know that everything is good and that its been properly regulated that those don’t’ slide into the area of a political advertisement versus being a straightforward ministerial business approach," Bradley said.
The implementing bill goes into effect July 1 with the start of the new fiscal year. Fried’s office said staff is reviewing the language “to see if any changes may be needed for future decal revisions.”