Capital Report: 05-16-2014

May 16, 2014

In the coming months, there will be some major shifts in the way statewide crime labs operate. As Sascha Cordner reports, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking to make some procedural changes spurred on by the initial arrest of a former crime lab chemist in a supervisorial role, suspected of tampering with drug evidence.

Tourism marketers in Florida are hoping to see at least 100 million trips to the state this year. Janelle Irwin from member station WMNF reports, the latest numbers are out for first quarter and those figures were record-breaking.

For the first time in more than 30 years, Florida is gaining acres of farmland rather than losing them. But as more areas are planted or devoted to livestock, the average age of farmers has gone up. As Jessica Palombo reports, some in the local food movement are working to break down barriers keeping new farmers from getting in the game.

Back before this year’s lawmaking session, we talked a lot about water here on Capital Report.  There were multiple bills in the legislative hopper to reverse the deterioration of the state’s springs, protect wetlands and keep pollutants out of the Florida Aquifer.  However, it wasn’t long into the session that the political will to tackle these issues seemed to dry up as quickly as an inch-deep puddle in July. Now, as Ryan Benk reports, a Tallahassee scientist is hoping to promote better water quality and bridge a political divide at the same time.

Open government advocates are asking “What Would Askew Do?” when it comes to public officials and financial reporting. The late Governor Reubin Askew promoted government transparency, and as Lynn Hatter reports, a lawsuit filed before the Florida Supreme Court says when public officials use blind trusts to hide their assets, it’s unconstitutional.