Blaise Gainey

Lead Government Reporter/Producer

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.

Follow Blaise Gainey on Twitter: @BlaiseGainey 

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Vaping device and cigarettes in the man's hand, concept of choosing the type of cigarette
Balint Radu / Adobe Stock

More than 5 million teenagers reported using e-cigarettes in November, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The legal age to purchase and use nicotine products is 18. That changes to 21 in June after a federal law was signed in December. Now Florida is adjusting its laws to reflect the national change, but the House and Senate aren’t aligned on what needs to be done.

Jail inmates playing chess in cell, prison hobby
motortion / Adobe Stock

With time winding down bills that haven’t gotten a first hearing are starting to near their death. One measure running out of time would allow non-violent prisoners to be released sooner. It would increase the amount of time off for good behavior. Gain time bill sponsors are trying to rally support.

Gundolf Renze / Adobe Stock

If you’ve ever streamed music or browsed the internet during a road trip in Florida, you might have noticed the service can be spotty. Now lawmakers are looking into a plan to increase broadband access for rural communities.

Sen. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) lives in a rural area and frequently deals with poor internet service.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is seen, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Atlanta.
Andrea Smith / AP Photo

Indigent felons can’t be required to pay fines and fees left over from their sentence before they can register to vote, according to a ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld a lower court decision declaring a Florida law unconstitutional. 

Chinnapong / Adobe Stock

Florida lawmakers say it should be a crime for fertility doctors to inseminate patients with their own sperm without consent. Several cases have popped up recently as the popularity of at-home genetic testing has grown--revealing the actions of unscrupulous doctors. But most states have no laws against the act.

people attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

It’s been two years since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting that left 17 dead. Since then, the legislature has passed several laws in an attempt to prevent more gun violence. Some of the changes include arming teachers, raising the legal age to purchase guns, and removing weapons from people who police are worried might harm themselves or others--the so-called red flag law. This session, Senate President Bill Galvano (Bradenton-R) asked lawmakers to study the causes behind gun violence, but so far not a lot is happening.

Brendan Farrington / AP Photo

In Florida, statewide campaigns are partially paid for by citizens. Voters approved the move decades ago to make sure people who wanted to run for a seat could afford to campaign. But since then the money poured into bids for office has ballooned, and lawmakers think candidates no longer need the financial help from the state.

Florida State University
Henryk Sadura / Adobe Stock

The House Education committee is considering a plan to merge Florida Polytechnic University with the University of Florida, and New College of Florida with Florida State University. The proposal was filed Monday and is being met with  mixed reactions.

Young and handsome businessman buying used car
hedgehog94 / Adobe Stock

Florida lawmakers want to tax companies that let people rent out their personal cars. A proposal in the legislature would apply the same surcharge regular rental car companies pay to transactions made through apps like Turo. But the same companies say they aren’t rental car agencies and shouldn’t be treated as such.

Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP Photo

The Florida Senate is moving its version of a plan allowing college athletes to receive pay for their name, image and likeness. Florida is trying to follow California, which passed a law allowing student athletes to earn money from endorsements.

a man puts a dollar bill into a small brown wallet.
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

State workers have been calling for pay raises for years. This week, the House and Senate released their plans to give them one. A union that represents a majority of state employees applauds the move, but wants more.

Florida Supreme Court building in front of blue sky
Nick Evans / WFSU

The Florida Supreme Court has set oral arguments in the Florigrown v. The Department of Health case for April 22 at 10 a.m. 

Two men reporting a car crash for insurance claim
Paolese / Adobe Stock

In Florida, every car owner must have Personal Injury Coverage. The rule went into place 40 years ago and many say since then it’s gotten too expensive. Now lawmakers are looking into a new plan to revamp the system.

Close up on hands tied with handcuffs
Jan H. Andersen / Adobe Stock

Current Florida law requires kids being charged as adults to be held in regular jail while they wait for their trial. New federal standards that go into effect at the end of next year require minors to be held in juvenile detention centers, with few exceptions. Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill to make sure Florida is in compliance.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala speaks with reporters about her decision to not pursue the death penalty during her administration.
Renata Sago / WMFE

Governor Ron DeSantis has pulled another high-profile murder case from Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala. He cited her objections to the death penalty as the prime reason.

Business concept with calculator, judge gavel, money and documents.
Evlakhov Valeriy / Adobe Stock

More than 97% of criminal cases in the U.S. are resolved through plea deals. But sometimes those offers are better for defendants who have more money. Lawmakers say that’s not fair and are trying to fix it.

Jamee Johnson
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Twenty-two-year-old Jamee Johnson had plans to graduate this Spring from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alongside his sister. But in December he was killed by police officers during a traffic stop in Jacksonville. His family is demanding more answers and some lawmakers joined that call at the Capitol Thursday.

DNA-Helix - 3D Visualisierung / Adobe Stock

The Florida House has done its part to make sure life, disability and long term care insurers can’t use a person’s genetic data against them. The bill, approved by the House Wednesday, adds to protections already in place by the federal government. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has been adamant about the need to make the change.

View of typical American school building exterior
littleny / Adobe Stock

Most elected officials in Florida have term limits. That includes the Governor, members of the House and Senate and the state’s Congressional Delegation. Local school board members however don’t have those restrictions. A lawmaker is trying to give voters the opportunity to change that.

Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Fifteen months. That’s how long it’s been since Hurricane Michael upended the lives of many Floridians living in the panhandle. For some of them, not much has changed since. They blame that on insurance companies. Tuesday Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis held a press conference with victims of the Category 5 Hurricane to highlight legislation he says will help speed up the process.

Rich Pedroncelli, File / AP Photo

State estimates show Florida could save hundreds of thousands of dollars if it were to allow certain inmates to be released from prison early.

Florida Supreme Court building in front of blue sky
Nick Evans / WFSU

The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee has forwarded its list of top nominees to Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis will choose two to fill the vacancies created by Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck.

Molecule of DNA forming inside the test tube in the blood test equipment. 3-D rendering,conceptual image.
Connect world / Adobe Stock

Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) says life insurance companies can use your genetic test against you. He wrote about those tests in a recent op-ed and is pushing a bill in the legislature that would stop the practice. His proposal passed its last stop before the full chamber Thursday.

Woman applying sunscreen on her shoulder
paultarasenko / Adobe Stock

One of the first bills ready for a vote by the full Senate would stop local governments from regulating sunscreen. It’s one of several preemption bills that has been filed this session.

Vaping device and cigarettes in the man's hand, concept of choosing the type of cigarette
Balint Radu

A new federal law bans anyone less than 21-years-old from purchasing tobacco products--including vaporizers. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are considering new legislation aimed at enforcing that law. But some say the state's proposed penalties aren’t harsh enough to be effective.