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.

For the past few lawmaking sessions, a true artist has been laboring in the fourth floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol.  Tom Flanigan reports there’s a reason Sculptor Michael Jernigan is creating his latest project in one of the Capitol’s busiest places…

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One of the biggest disputes of the 2012 Florida Legislative Session has involved the Personal Injury Protection, or “PIP” reform issue.  The House and Senate bills addressing that issue are still far apart.  And as the session winds down, Tom Flanigan reports supporters of the House bill, including Governor Rick Scott, are ramping up the pressure….

With just a single day left in the regular session, Governor Rick Scott called reporters into his office to meet with him, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty:

With the end of the regular legislative session in sight, the Florida Senate was in high gear Tuesday.  Tom Flanigan reports the chamber dealt with a total of sixty bills in the morning session alone.

The blistering pace was set right out of the box.  On Monday, debate on the surplus lines insurance bill took up nearly two hours of senate time.  On Tuesday, Representative Garret Richter introduced that bill for the third and last time…

Richter: “As we debated yesterday, this bill allows surplus lines companies to remove policies from Citizens Property Insurance.”

As the final scheduled week of the 2012 Florida Legislative Session got underway, the state senate was working through a long list of bills.  Tom Flanigan reports the issue of allowing unregulated out-of-state insurers to take over Citizens Insurance customers sparked spirited debate.

PIP clears House

Mar 2, 2012

The Florida House has passed its version of a bill that supporters say will reduce auto insurance fraud.  Tom Flanigan reports opponents put up a fight during final debate on the measure, all the while acknowledging that passage was inevitable.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Representative Jim Boyd of Bradenton, tried to put a light-hearted spin on what has been one of the session’s most contentious topics.

The battle over whether to regulate or decimate Internet cafes was raging in the Florida Legislature Thursday.  Tom Flanigan reports the House is betting elimination beats regulation.

After many committee meetings, debate and amendments, Republican Representative Scott Plakon of Longwood was bringing his bill to the House floor for the last time.

“This bill brings greater clarity to our laws as it relates to the storefront casinos/Internet sweepstakes centers that law enforcement from top to bottom has been asking us to clarify.”

Muslims from all over Florida rallied at the State Capitol Tuesday.  It’s become a regular event during the legislative session.  But Tom Flanigan reports the group actually had some hostile legislation to oppose this year….

More than a hundred people gathered on the steps of Florida’s Historic Old Capitol. This was the Fourth Annual Florida Muslim Capitol Day.  In past years, the event was a chance for members of the Islamic faith from different parts of the state to get together and make their presence known to lawmakers.  This year there was a more specific focus..

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Amtrak’s Sunset Limited passenger train hasn’t been on North Florida rails since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Now, as Tom Flanigan reports, there’s a growing effort to get that train back on track.

Florida House and Senate conferees have begun trying to work out the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the new state budget.  Nearly all the budget-balancing emphasis has been on spending cuts, but one way to boost state revenue is still alive in the senate.  Tom Flanigan reports a Capital City meeting was the site of a pro-and-con debate on that idea.

Two of the more controversial issues facing this year’s Florida Legislative Session wound up on the agenda of the House Economic Affairs Committee Friday.  As Tom Flanigan reports, the committee sent the bills covering both matters to the house floor after much debate.

When it comes to property taxes, Florida’s local governments usually find themselves on the opposite side of the issue from the state’s business community.  But Tom Flanigan reports there was a rare show of agreement Thursday  during the Senate Finance and Tax Committee meeting.

Senator Nancy Detert brought what’s called a “Senate Joint Resolution” before the committee.

“This is a proposed amendment to the constitution that, if adopted, would provide additional property tax exemption for tangible personal property.”

At just about every legislative committee meeting in Tallahassee, there will be lobbyists lining up to speak for or against various bills.  Tom Flanigan reports there was a unique group of lobbyists Tuesday before the Senate K-through-Twelve Education Committee.

Committee member Bill Montford, Democrat from Tallahassee, rose to explain his bill…

Monday’s meeting of the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee began peacefully enough.  But Tom Flanigan reports things quickly turned tense when members began debating a bill that would change the state’s laws governing foreclosure.

Going into this year’s Florida Legislative Session, it appeared property insurance might finally drop off of lawmakers’ radar screens.  But Tom Flanigan reports, with three weeks to go in the session, the issue is once again a matter of some debate.

It seems nearly everyone at the Florida Capitol now agrees that personal injury protection or “PIP” insurance fraud is a big problem.  Tom Flanigan reports the only thing those people disagree about is how to fix the problem.

The scene is the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, named after former State Senator Pat Thomas, just west of Tallahassee.  Dozens of people are huddled under a leaky tent as a heavy rain falls.  A Florida Highway Patrol trooper tells the crowd what’s about to happen…

A Florida Senate Committee tackled a bill Tuesday to prohibit lawmakers from working for a state college or university.  Tom Flanigan reports the bill failed after much impassioned discussion

The bill was proposed by Jacksonville Republican John Thrasher.  It would set up rules for public officials to use blind trusts in the event their business or other activities might present a conflict of interest.  Thrasher’s bill would tighten financial reporting requirements.  And it would do one other thing…

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.”

WFSU

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.

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