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.

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Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, listens to the debate on his sponsored felon voting rights bill during session Wednesday April 24, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

A bill that could make it harder for citizens to amend the state constitution is moving forward. Republicans say it ensures voters know who’s behind the proposals and what the amendments would do.

Close up look at marijuana plant growing in Gardena, CA
Richard Vogel, File / AP Photo

A Republican lawmaker wants to change Florida’s medical marijuana system as well as legalize the drug for adults. 

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) hasn’t been shy in the past when it comes to criticizing the current system and now wants to dismantle it.

Close up on handcuffed hands
Jan H. Andersen / Adobe Stock

Kids who get arrested can get their records cleared if they complete a diversion program. But it’s currently limited, so Senator Keith Perry wants to expand it.

Rep. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) leading a hearing Wednesday on mental health and substance abuse issues.
Florida Channel

Marital privilege means spouses don’t have to testify against each other. But Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) thinks there should be exceptions -especially when it comes to kids. She has a bill to do that.

Brandes speaks on the Senate floor
Steve Cannon / AP

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St.Petersburg) wants to legalize marijuana for adult use and also clear simple possession cannabis charges for those convicted across the state. It’s the first time a Republican has sponsored such legislation in Florida.

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

The Florida Supreme Court has struck down the Citizens for Energy Choices ballot initiative. They say the ballot summary tells voters they are granted a personal right to sell electricity but that’s not what the amendment would do.

hand in jail
mudretsov / Adobe Stock

A bill filed Friday would give some help to expectant mothers who are behind bars.

A display of Medical Marijuana at Fluent in Tallahassee, FL.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

A 2017 law challenging Florida’s medical marijuana industry plays a big part over what may happen with medical or recreational marijuana in Florida during the 2020 legislative session. The lawsuit is being brought by Florigrown a Tampa-based firm which was denied a license from the state. Cannabis Wire’s Shawn Mulcahy talks about the current status of that case and the impact it could have on the upcoming session.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

A group of Florida teens say the state has violated their constitutional rights by not doing enough to combat climate change. They’ve sued the state because of it. A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled after the defendants agreed new documents could be added in the case. Still, the teens met in Tallahassee to present their case to the public.

Small grocery list presented by Stacy Wein.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida state workers haven’t gotten a pay raise since 2008. Now the public employee union is calling for one. But if state negotiators have their way, that won’t happen without the legislature stepping in.

Protestors march in support of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour as part of an expanding national movement known as Fight for 15, Wednesday, April 15, 2015, in Miami. The event was part of a national protest day to coincide with the April 15 deadlin
Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Voters will soon have the option to raise Florida's minimum wage to $15 an hour. The state Supreme Court approved language for the proposed amendment Thursday. Now the issue is heading for the 2020 ballot. State Chief Economist Amy Baker says if approved, the change could cost the state.

A display of Medical Marijuana at Fluent in Tallahassee, FL.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida currently allows medical marijuana use and St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes thinks it’s time to take the next step to recreational. The drug is currently legal in 11 states for recreational use, and the majority of states allow medical marijuana.

"I would be shocked if we don’t have adult use in Florida by 2024 just via the constitutional amendment," says Brandes. "I think it’s time for the legislature to take this issue on so we’re going to be proposing legislation this year that would allow for adult use cannabis in Florida."

Shaquille Dukes' attorney Ben Crump speaks during a news conference in Chicago, Thursday, July 11, 2019. Dukes stated that he believes he was wrongfully arrested last month outside FHN Memorial Hospital in Freeport, Ill., while still attached to an IV.
Amr Alfiky / AP Photo

Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump is joining the office of Attorney Lee Merrit to represent the family of Jamee Johnson. Johnson was a former student at Florida A&M University who was killed Sunday in Jacksonville during a traffic stop.

The Florida Senate chambers.
Nick Evans / WFSU-FM

State workers in Florida haven’t gotten an across-the-board pay raise since before Gov. Rick Scott took office. State senators are looking at how they may be able to fit a pay raise into this year’s budget.

Richard Vogel / AP Photo

Regulate Florida says it won’t make a February 1 signature deadline for a marijuana legalization amendment on the state’s November 2020 ballot.

Leon County Supervisor Mark Earley says the state and election officers are nowhere close to removing felons that have not paid fines, fees and restitution from voter rolls.

Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a committee meeting
Andrew Harnik / AP

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday Florida is officially partnering with ERIC or the Electronic Registration Information Center. It's a non-partisan organization that essentially creates a multi-state database.

Auto mechanic changing car glass in garage
industrieblick / Adobe Stock

A bill to limit litigation tied to auto glass repairs died in committee Tuesday. The unexpected failure caught insurance watchers by surprise but one key lawmaker says the issue isn’t dead yet.

Affordable Housing Crisis news
zimmytws / Adobe Stock

A lack of affordable housing will soon be a problem in more parts of Florida. According to a Florida Housing Coalition report, 921,928 very low-income households are spending more than half of  what they earn on housing.

Phil Sears / AP Photo

After firing Willie Taggart for a 27-10 loss to rival University of Miami the Florida State Seminoles have decided to give University of Memphis head coach Mike Norvell the job.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, second from left, presides over the Florida cabinet meeting consisting of Attorney General Ashley Moody, left, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, far right, Tuesday June 4, 2019.
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

Florida’s clemency process has faced criticism for being harsh, laborious, and too slow. In 2018, a judge ruled it unconstitutional. But the state appealed the ruling and the court granted a stay – meaning the process hasn’t changed. Now, the only Democrat on the clemency board says things are getting worse.

Nikki Fried is dressed in a business suit clutching a podium with microphones resting close to her.
Ryan Dailey / WFSUNews

Florida held a clemency board meeting Wednesday for 70 of the 13,000 felons seeking to have their rights restored. Commissioner Nikki Fried is a member of the board and says the process has gotten worse since being ruled unconstitutional in 2018.

Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna speaking with Bond Elementary school students during lunch.
Leon County Schools twitter

Parents who struggled to pay for their kid’s school lunches got a break Tuesday, after an anonymous person donated a chunk of money toward the remaining lunch debt owed by Leon County students.

Voters cast their ballots (undated)
Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Florida Democrats and Republicans are united in opposing a constitutional amendment proposal opening the state’s primary elections to all voters regardless of party. The Florida Supreme Court got an earful Tuesday as it weighs whether the amendment can go before voters.

A paper with the word Vote and two boxes that say Yes or No. The Yes box has a marking in it.
kpg_ivary / Adobe Stock

Backers of a state constitutional amendment proposal are trying to make it harder for the document to be changed. The plan has more than half the required signatures to go before voters next year and is in the middle of a state budget review.