Tom Flanigan

Program Director for News

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, with a focus on covering local news personalities, issues and organizations.  He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and  covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas and his home state of Maryland.  In between, he spent a number of years in corporate communications for a few private firms, time that he calls “invaluable” for giving him a greatly expanded media perspective.  During the relatively rare times he’s not racing to cover various community events and activities, Tom enjoys reading and playing guitar (He was a professional drummer in a previous life and is trying to expand his musical horizons). Follow Tom Flanigan on Twitter: @flanigan_tom.

The Florida Legislature is now halfway towards its goal of a state budget for the coming fiscal year.  Tom Flanigan reports the House plan passed on a strict party line vote Thursday.  The Senate is expected to have its version of the budget ready for a vote sometime next week.

After several years of steady decreases, Florida businesses have seen recent hikes in their workers’ compensation payments.  Tom Flanigan reports a house committee was trying to reverse that trend Thursday.

Wednesday’s  Florida House Session was a marathon.  Tom Flanigan reports members kicked things off promptly at a quarter-til-eleven in the morning and were scheduled to plow through the budget process until seven in the evening.

There was a palpable sense of urgency in the Florida House of Representatives today:

“We are officially today at the halftime point of our sixty-day session.  And last week we passed the redistricting bills and today we’ll begin consideration of the second of our two constitutional duties, which is to pass a balanced budget.”

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After more than a dozen years away from Tallahassee City Hall, former Mayor Scott Maddox says he’s ready to go back.  Tom Flanigan reports Maddox announced his city commission campaign Wednesday.

Maddox announced his plans in the downtown park near the Doubletree Hotel:

“It’s my pleasure to be here to announce my candidacy for the city commission, seat one.”

That’s the seat being vacated by the retiring Mark Mustian.  Maddox supporters include local businessman Kim Williams:

Local horse-lovers will celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early…at the “Have a Heart 4 Horses” Fundraiser to help abused and neglected equines.  Tom Flanigan has the story.

The horse was Indie, short for Independence, since he’d been born on the Fourth of July.  The email was from Triple-R Horse Rescue to Lynn O’Connor. 

A different kind of gas station is being built on Tallahassee’s west side.  Tom Flanigan reports this station will dispense natural gas, both for Leon County school buses and anyone else who wants to use it….

Hundreds of people ignored the occasional raindrops to attend Tuesday’s groundbreaking near the corner of Capital Circle and Highway Twenty.  Governor Rick Scott even added the occasion to his schedule.

Some homeowners who have policies with Citizens Property Insurance may suddenly find themselves with a different insurer.  Tom Flanigan reports the Florida House has passed a bill that allows mostly unregulated carriers to take over many of Citizens’ customers.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Jim Boyd of Bradenton, seemed a model of brevity and simplicity.

“This bill is a Citizens depopulation bill by surplus lines carriers with increased solvency standards and that’s the bill, Mr. Speaker.”

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Forty-one states have a full or partial ban on texting while driving.  Florida is one of just eight states that have no such laws on the books.  Tom Flanigan reports it appears that situation is unlikely to change as a result of the 2012 lawmaking session….

Steve Augello of Spring Hill has been bringing his tragic story to Tallahassee for years:

A Tallahassee hospice throws a chocolate-based bash this Saturday.  Tom Flanigan reports the proceeds will help families who otherwise wouldn’t have access to end-of-life services.

Lydia Claire Brooks is with Covenant Hospice.  It came to Tallahassee in 2003.

Last year, Florida lawmakers didn’t approve a bill giving all state workers the same contribution for their health coverage.  But Tom Flanigan reports that bill may be more successful this year.

Governor Rick Scott had pushed the idea almost from the moment he took office.  All State of Florida employees would get five thousand dollars a year to help them buy health insurance, whether individual or family coverage.   That concept resurfaced in the House Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Robert Schenck, Republican of Spring Hill.  

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The Florida casino gambling debate rages on, not just at the State Capitol, but also on the luncheon speaker circuit.  Tom Flanigan reports hundreds of Capitol Tiger Bay Club members were treated to a casino pro-and-con showdown Tuesday.

While a Florida Senate Committee was considering alternative fuels for the state’s power plants Monday, an alternative energy car was attracting attention just a few miles from the Capitol.  Tom Flanigan reports the car is part of a growing movement to power motor vehicles with natural gas instead of gasoline.

Florida’s state employees may not have received a raise in years, but the lowest-paid state workers could be in line for a new benefit.  Tom Flanigan reports a Senate committee has voted to allow those employees to enroll their children in Florida’s low-income healthcare service.

For years, children in Florida’s low-income families have had an option for low-cost medical coverage called “Kidcare”.  But members of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee learned Thursday that one group of low-paid Floridians doesn’t have that option available to them.

Monticello’s historic opera house will be serving up a tasty musical buffet this Friday and Saturday.  Tom Flanigan reports the event will become a future “From the Heart Music Hour” on WFSU-TV.

Growing up in Pensacola during the sixties, Jim White was exposed to a surprising variety of musical influences.

“There was one radio station in town that played popular music and it played anything from schlock psychedlia to straight-up-country like Bobbi Gentry to the series of Motown artists that came out to pop, rock…it played everything.”

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The debate on how to reduce personal injury protection insurance fraud was raging again in the Florida Legislature Wednesday.  Tom Flanigan reports those supporting the House’s solution held a noon pep rally in the Capitol Rotunda.  Meanwhile, consumer advocates are favoring the Senate’s less sweeping approach to the problem.

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Florida hospitals could see big cuts in what they’re paid for treating Medicaid patients.  A key state house committee moved to include those cuts in the health and human services part of next year’s state budget  Tuesday.  Tom Flanigan reports that took place as a “who’s-who” of Florida health care took part in a ribbon cutting less than two miles from the Capitol.

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist was a big fan of alternative and renewable energy.  The state’s commitment to developing those energy sources may have slipped a bit with his departure from the governor’s mansion.  But Tom Flanigan reports the concept remains very much alive at the State Capitol.

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Adam Putnam was front and center at Monday’s meeting of the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee.

The Florida Legislature's various budget writing committees were still waiting for new revenue estimates Thursday. But that didn't stop them from starting to lay the groundwork for next year's state spending plan. Tom Flanigan reports it was during one such meeting that the Senate Budget Subcommittee for Criminal and Civil Justice heard some troubling news.

The second official day of Florida’s 2012 Legislative Session was a flurry of activity at the State Capitol.  Tom Flanigan reports lawmakers jumped right into issues, both heavy and not-so-heavy.

In his State of the State message on the session’s opening day, Governor Rick Scott told lawmakers he wanted something done about auto insurance fraud and what that’s costing policyholders.

“These costs are being driven up each and every day all around the state by scams that are ultimately paid for by Florida’s working families.”

Governor Rick Scott delivered his State-of-the-State address Tuesday as part of the Legislature's opening day festivities. There are many crucial issues facing lawmakers this year. But Tom Flanigan reports the governor focused on just a few of them.

Last year, the newly-elected Scott gave a somewhat stiff and formal State-of-the-State speech. Not so this year, as a more visibly relaxed governor went off-script to joke around at the beginning of his talk.

Governor Rick Scott had a very short wish list for Florida lawmakers Tuesday.  Tom Flanigan reports the governor did have two top priorities he wants to see addressed above everything else.

The top priority is more money for public schools.  In his State of the State address, Scott insisted the legislature up public school funding by just over a billion dollars.  The governor’s other priority is putting an end to personal injury protection or “PIP” fraud.  He says that’s costing auto insurance policy holders an extra nine-hundred million dollars.

For the third year, a young Florida woman will be hiking across the state to call attention to the crime of childhood sexual abuse. Tom Flanigan reports the effort is also focused on trying to close some loopholes in existing state law.

Lauren Book says present Florida law would not have allowed the Penn State abuse case to be reported.

"If the person who was offending against the child was not a direct caregiver, that report will not be taken."

So Lake Mary Republican Representative Chris Dorworth has filed a bill to fix that.

Florida’s 2012 Legislative Session is just days away.  Tom Flanigan reports that this year’s gathering of lawmakers will be unique in several ways.

The first, most obvious difference is the timeframe for the session.  Instead of early March, the starting date for this session is early January.  The reason is the once-every-ten year necessity for legislative redistricting, based on the outcome of the latest U-S Census.

Tallahassee, FL – The entire Medicaid issue is still a "moving target" in Florida. Tom Flanigan reports the state's plan to move Medicaid patients into managed care could have a big impact, not only on the patients, but also the very industries that will have to work together closely under the proposal.

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