Sascha Cordner

All Things Considered Host/Reporter

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications.  She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink."  Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU.  Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

A Senate panel narrowly cleared a bill Tuesday that would allow all state agencies to randomly drug test their employees. Sascha Cordner has more:

By one vote, a Senate Budget committee approved the bill that allows for the random drug testing of 10-percent of a state agency’s workforce. Democratic Representative Oscar Braynon, who voted against it, says it doesn’t make sense to move forward while a legal challenge on the issue is pending:

An almost 40-year old scuffle between two kinds of eye care professionals could be coming close to an end. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, despite passage of a bill that could do so, opponents say ending the war at the cost of limiting the amount of legitimate medical malpractice claims is not the way to do it.

It’s an ongoing dispute known as the “eyeball wars” between ophthalmologists and optometrists. Both professions deal with eye care, but there’s one difference:

Ophthalmologists are medical doctors, while optometrists are not.

The Florida House has agreed to start negotiating with the Senate on the proposed creation of a 12th public university in the state of Florida. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the measure had several Democrats asking why a new school is needed:

Making the University of South Florida’s Polytechnic Campus in Polk County a separate university from USF has been a major priority for Senate Budget Chief JD Alexander. In fact, that’s what drove him to craft a bill to do so.

A bill meant to lower the retirement age of special risk employees back to what it was a year ago is more or less dead in the Florida Legislature. Sascha Cordner has more.

After a move by the Senate to stall the measure, the House sponsor, Republican Representative Ritch Workman, withdrew his proposal from consideration in its last committee stop.

As a federal judge looks into the constitutionality of Governor Rick Scott’s order to randomly drug test state workers, the Legislature is still moving legislation along that would do just that. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, despite a last minute change to soften the bill, the measure still came under fire from labor unions and Democrats in a House panel Friday.

The first of about 10 anti-abortion bills filed in the Florida Legislature is now heading to the House floor. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the measure has opponents saying it will further restrict abortions from taking place in Florida, calling it “more government intrusion.”

In its last committee stop, the House Health and Human Services Committee, Republican Representative Rachel Burgin of Riverview introduced a comprehensive anti-abortion bill that essentially places restrictions on abortions being performed in the state.

A bill that would prevent local governments from creating their own rules to crack down on wage theft passed in a House panel Wednesday. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, the move came with heavy opposition from members of the public who say it would mean the end of a wage-theft protection program in Miami.

Wage theft can be anything from an employer paying an employee below the state or federal minimum wage to an employee not receiving a final paycheck at the end of their employment.

A bill that would deny convicted drug felons from receiving temporary cash assistance, unless they go through a drug rehabilitation program, is now heading for a House floor vote. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, while the bill passed out of a House panel Tuesday, it received staunch opposition from Democrats, who claim the bill is mean-spirited.

Republican Representative Jimmie Smith of Lecanto says it’s the perfect way for the state of Florida to show that its officials are willing to help those who help themselves.

A federal judge has ruled that specific limits on sewage and fertilizer contamination in state waters must go into effect in three weeks. As Sascha Cordner Reports, even though the judge invalidated the federal requirements in some water bodies, both sides in the ongoing battle over Florida’s water pollution standards are declaring some kind of victory…

David Guest is an attorney with Earthjustice, an environmental group that filed a Clean Water Act federal lawsuit a few years ago on behalf of other environmental groups seeking limits on the pollutants in Florida’s water bodies.

Last month, a union representing Florida’s prison nurses filed a lawsuit to block the privatization of inmate health care services in the Department of Corrections. Now, as Sascha Cordner reports, two labor unions have jumped on the bandwagon, and filed a similar lawsuit of their own.

A measure that would allow police officers, firefighters, and other special-risk employees to retire earlier is advancing in the House. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, there are a couple of provisions in the bill that opponents say would destroy the state’s pension plan system.

Republican Representative Ritch Workman says he wants a do-over on a massive pension reform plan he sponsored last year to correct a past mistake:

Governor Rick Scott says he’s looking into privatizing the state’s South Florida prisons on his own, even though a proposal to do as such died in the Legislature. Sascha Cordner has more.

Scott says even though the proposal was not one of his legislative priorities, he feels lawmakers let Florida taxpayers down by voting against the prison privatization bill.

Recently, a Senate panel rejected a proposal that would have granted in-state tuition to Florida residents, who are children of undocumented immigrants. Now, as Sascha Cordner reports, a similar bill met the same fate in its first committee stop Thursday.

Senator Gary Siplin of Orlando is a Democratic lawmaker, known for often voting against his own party and siding with Republican lawmakers. During Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, Siplin reminded the panel of his reputation:

A bill that would have required state employees to submit to a random drug test narrowly escaped death, at least for now. As Sascha Cordner reports, the bill initially failed to pass in a House budget panel due to worries over its constitutionality, but was later revived by that same panel Wednesday.

Currently, the state is embroiled in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The group is challenging an executive order issued by Governor Rick Scott last year, calling for the mandatory drug testing of some state employees.

Chris O'Meara / The Associated Press

Senate President Mike Haridopolos has been one of the biggest proponents in the prison privatization debate. Sascha Cordner takes a look as to why the Merritt Island Republican felt so strongly about privatizing the state correctional facilities in South Florida as well as his tactics to accomplish that.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos says he’s always gone about using his position in the right way.

A move to stop a prison privatization plan from moving forward failed to pass out of the Senate Tuesday. As Sascha Cordner, this comes ahead of Tuesday’s vote on the massive effort where both opponents and proponents have been making a last ditch effort to plead their case.

Ahead of Tuesday’s vote, both sides have been roaming the Florida Capitol trying to garner support for either side. Among them are the correctional officers who will be the most affected by privatizing the 27 correctional facilities in South Florida.

There are a couple of new twists in the ongoing batter over prison privatization. As Sascha Cordner reports, opposing sides are using religion and slavery as the basis for their argument.

Supporters of an effort to privatize about 30 South Florida prisons usually argue that private companies will do the same job as a state-run prison and will save the state millions of dollars. Meanwhile, opponents say there is no set cost-savings, private companies select inmates that don’t cost as much, and it will cost thousands of correctional officers their jobs.

A bill that would shift public-health responsibilities from the Florida Department of Health to the state’s 67 counties is moving through the Florida House. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, opponents believe the public’s health should stay right where it is.

Republican Representative Matt Hudson, the bill’s sponsor, says right now, the county health departments have two bosses, the state’s surgeon general and the county commissioners. He says the locals are better equipped to address the needs of their community:

Sascha Cordner

Several Democratic lawmakers gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to garner support for a bill that would grant in-state tuition to undocumented students if they meet certain conditions. Sascha Cordner has more.

As the prison privatization debate continues, among the proponents are jail chaplains. As Sascha Cordner reports, they say the legislation will provide an opportunity to expand the success of faith-and-character-based programs.

Faith-based and business leaders say privatizing about 30 South Florida prisons is the best way to accomplish what they call long-overdue reform. Claudio Perez is the President and CEO of South Florida Jail Ministries. He says the state is not doing enough for the faith-based programs, and a private company can do it better.

Two bills aiming to end staged accidents and personal injury protection abuse are moving through both chambers of the Florida Legislature. As Sascha Cordner reports, the state’s insurance commissioner says he likes different parts of the House and Senate PIP proposals, and envisions a marriage of both.

Florida’s Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty says there are elements of both House Bill 119 and Senate Bill 1860 that will bring comprehensive personal injury protection, or PIP reform.

Opponents of a bill to change Florida’s standard for evaluating expert witness testimony are doing everything they can to stop the legislation from moving forward in the Florida House. As Sascha Cordner reports, just after the bill was about to pass out of a House panel Wednesday, one lawmaker managed to halt the measure.

A Senate Budget committee that oversees the spending for the courts and prisons rolled out an initial budget  making $140 million  in cuts. But as Sascha Cordner reports, it was not the cuts that were a matter of concern to the panel... it was actually the added funding to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

About two months ago, Governor Rick Scott’s budget recommendations for the prisons and the courts called for $160 million  in cuts.

Republican Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff revealed Tuesday that the Senate’s budget proposal is a bit less at $140 million  in spending cuts.

A bill that would give Governor Rick Scott the authority to fire specific board members on Florida’s local workforce boards recently passed in the Florida House. But, as Sascha Cordner reports, while the bill received support for the most part, opponents worry it gives too much power to the state’s governors.

Last year, several state unemployment agencies, or regional workforce boards, were involved in questionable practices, from awarding contracts to companies owned by specific board members or their relatives, to misusing federal funds.

Last week, Senate President Mike Haridopolos removed a veteran lawmaker from chairing a Budget panel that oversees spending for prisons and courts. As Sascha Cordner reports, Senator Mike Fasano’s replacement is expected to start her first day Tuesday, and she says she’s up for the challenge.

Republican Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff says as a lawyer, she’s had experience in both the prisons and the courts, and she’s ready to create a budget. She says if prison privatization is still on the table, for her, the decision of whether to privatize is a simple one: