Vanity Duran

FM Intern

Vanity Duran is a Broadcast Journalism senior at Florida A&M University. She currently writes for The Famuan, the school newspaper, serves as a reporter for Brand Newz, an online multimedia portal, is founder of UNIDOS (Uniting Nations to Inspire Diverse Opportunities in Society) and serves as an aspiring motivational speaker through her brand LIFE5TYLEZ. Vanity is excited to be interning with WFSU while preparing to graduate with a bachelor's degree in May 2015.

all aboard florida train
All Aboard Florida

All Aboard Florida wants to build more rail lines in the Treasure Coast and North Palm Beach County. But it's encountering heavy criticism as it seeks to expand high-speed commuter rail in the state.

Real Estate Webmasters

Investors who buy more than seven condominium units are called bulk buyers. Rep. George Moraitis ,R-Ft. Lauderdale,  filed a bill to provide protection for consumers who purchase units from bulk buyers. Moraitis says bulk buyer protection was a great tool to get through the recession.

The sun would no longer come out when it comes to identifying university and college president and provost candidates. At least that’s the point of a public-record exemption moving in the Legislature.

Ilya Sedykh / Flickr

Films like “Magic Mike” and “Edward Scissorhands” were filmed in Florida. Due the states struggle to compete with other state incentives Florida lawmakers make an effort to revise the state’s tax credits for film productions in Florida.

The Sunshine State is featured in popular movies such as “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Dolphin Tale” parts one and two. With four consecutive years of record-breaking tourism, films in Florida play a big part of the state’s economy.

HIV testing
Raj Taneja via Flickr

Florida is one of the top states in the nation with the most HIV cases. Sen. Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) is pushing a bill to expand testing requirements.

More than 100,000 Floridians are HIV positive according to the Florida Department of Health, but the rate of new cases is also decreasing. Thompson wants to move the figure even lower by expanding testing. SB 512 would make HIV-testing a regular thing—like when physicians check glucose or cholesterol levels. Co-Sponsor Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando) says HIV awareness needs to be promoted.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum wants to see more participation in local government. He’s launched a survey to get feedback on the city’s numerous advisory boards.

Citizen Advisory Committees allow individuals to engage with City Hall on a number of issues to effectively conduct business in City Hall.  The survey asks residents to identify areas of interest—like arts and culture, ethics and transportation the hope being, Community Relations Coordinator Jamie Van Pelt says, more people will get involved in local government.

visitfloridablog.org / Visit Florida

Tourism Day is bringing out the film, restaurant and museum industries, among others. State officials want to highlight their role in the states number one industry.

Every 85 visitors to the state supports one Florida job. Tourism employs more than 1.1 million Floridians.

Last year, more than 97 million people toured the state’s restaurants, museums and even film sites. President of Film Florida, Michelle Hillery says film and tourism is a perfect marriage.

Zoute Drop via Flickr

Sen. Darren Soto (D-Orlando),  is trying to save the day with a bill that would keep Florida clocks from falling back this November. The “Sunshine Protection Act” would keep daylight saving time in place year round.

Soto wants to make the change for economic and environmental reasons. He says Floridians and the tourism industry will benefit from being outdoors.

In celebration of National Nutrition Month, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is hosting kindergarten and third grade students from Roberts Elementary School. The students planted potatoes and learned about the garden.

Third grade teacher, Darlene Lowery says Roberts Elementary has a school garden of its own.

We’re loving it because in our science class we’re studying living things and watching seeds germinate,” Lowery says.

Rene Garcia
Florida Senate / FLSenate.gov

More children could soon be allowed to sign up for the low-income health insurance program, KidCare.

SB 282 will eliminate a five-year waiting period for legal immigrant children to get healthcare.  It will allow nearly 30,000 low-income, legally residing children to participate in the KidCare insurance program.  Bill sponsor, Sen. Rene Garcia of Miami, says the proposal is long overdue and will not cost the state much money.

Florida League of Women Voters urge to ban guns on college campuses.
Scott Beale via Flickr

The Florida League of Women Voters is urging the Legislature to keep guns off college campuses. The move comes in the wake of Monday’s shooting at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona, Fla. 

The League says the shooting at Bethune-Cookman University raises its concern to another level. Three students suffered minor injuries during the incident. League President Deirdre Macnab says guns on any college campus is bad for safety.  

TCC

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) and Valdosta State University (VSU) are partnering to simplify student transition between the two schools.

The agreements will allow TCC students with an Associate’s degree and the required grade point average to gain admission to VSU and pay in-state tuition. VSU’s Joe Weaver says the programs are a part of his school’s effort to bring non-traditional students into the Georgia university system.

The Apalachicola National Forest is on fire. But its routine maintenance. A 541-acre parcel near St. Marks Trial is the spot for a prescribed burning.

The process helps to control catastrophic wildfires and reduce the fuel load. U.S. Forest Services firefighter Aaron Edwards, says without prescribed fires, homes close to the forest area will be threatened.

"Our ecosystem is very fire dependent," Edwards says. "So if it doesn’t have fire in it, it won’t be able to replenish itself.

Senator Dwight Bullard returned to Florida A&M University Wednesday as the keynote speaker at the school’s annual Black History Month Convocation.  Carrying the theme of “Where is the FAM in U”, Bullard challenged his audience to help preserve the institution. He cited the success of FAMU alumni, like fellow Sen. Athena Joyner and Patricia Stephens Due who were arrested during their efforts to desegregate the Tallahassee bus system.

Tallahassee Police Department

The Tallahassee Police Department is asking the public for feedback on how it can improve. The department makes efforts to connect with citizens and local businesses.

The TPD community survey aims to gather feedback on its job performance. The public responses will help determine the department’s performance and officials say to strengthen TPD’s relationship with the community and to help it improve its policies and procedures.

FWC

The lionfish continues to be problematic for Florida wildlife officials. While nice to look at, the invasive fish is harmful to the state’s nature habitat. The state wildlife agency is designating May 16th as Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day.

Lance McCord

Measles cases are rising across the United States. The state health department is working with other officials to monitor people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Officials have identified four cases of measles in the past two weeks. The cases were in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties and none come from state residents. The Florida Department of Health is now reaching out to people who may have come in contact with infected visitors.  Tom Truman, a pediatric physician at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital says measles is one of the most contagious diseases.

Office Of Economic And Demographic Research

State economists are trying to figure out what impact certain proposals will have on Florida’s budget. Monday’s conversation focused on property tax and corporate income tax bills.

Economists sat around a long, round table with their heads down crunching on numbers on a bill that would increase the states homestead exemption for some homeowners.

Springwood Elementary surprises behavior specialist, Tabitha Bradwell is the Leon County School-Related Employee of the Year.

An unsuspecting Bradwell was  greeted at the Springwood Elementary Media Center by her colleagues and Leon County Superintendent Jackie Pons. Her boss, Springwood Principal Christopher Small, says he told Bradwell last year that this would be the year for her to excel.

"She has that quality to where regardless of what you place in front of her because she loves what she does and she loves kids; she’s going to make it happen," Small said.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission / FWC's Flickr account

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is getting a federal grant to step up protection efforts for some of the state's threatened and endangered species.

The Commission wants to use the $370 million federal grant to target the gopher tortoise, Florida panther and Florida grasshopper sparrow.

Florida Department of Corrections

The execution of a man convicted for a 1993 murder is set to take place this week. It would be the 21st execution during Gov. Rick Scott’s system.

Johnny Shane Kormondy is set to be executed for his role in a 1993 murder. One of his accomplices admitted to killing Gary McAdams and is only serving life.

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling for prayer vigils to pray for the McAdams family and for Kormondy. Executive Director, Michael Sheedy says the bishops continue to call for an end of the use of the death penalty.

Same-sex couples in Miami were the first in the state to celebrate marriages after Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel lifted her stay Monday.
Adam Lederer via Flickr

Same-sex couples in Florida can now be married and have those marriages recognized in the state.

The City of Tallahassee started letting employees involved in domestic partnerships get benefits a few years ago. The city’s human resources manager, Ellen Blaire says because of that, Tallahassee is ahead of the curve.

“The City of Tallahassee has offered both same-sex and domestic partner benefits since 2010, so the change in law will not have any significant impact on how we operate,” Blair says.

DOC Staffer John McAuliffe
The Florida Channel

The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee is looking into the budgets of several agencies. Wednesday’s meeting brought a closer look at the Department of Corrections.

Florida has one of the highest prison populations in the nation with a $2.3 billion budget—it also spends the most on incarceration. Against that backdrop the committee heard from the Department of Corrections. Panel staffer, John McAuliffe describes to lawmakers where and how DOC spends its money.