Gina Jordan

Morning Edition Host

Gina Jordan is the host of Morning Edition for WFSU News. Gina is a Tallahassee native and graduate of Florida State University. She spent 15 years working in news/talk and country radio in Orlando before becoming a reporter and All Things Considered host for WFSU in 2008. She left after a few years to spend more time with her son, working part-time as the capital reporter/producer for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a drama teacher at Young Actors Theatre. She also blogged and reported for StateImpact Florida, an NPR education project, and produced podcasts and articles for AVISIAN Publishing. Gina has won awards for features, breaking news coverage, and newscasts from contests including the Associated Press, Green Eyeshade, and Murrow Awards. Gina is on the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors. Gina is thrilled to be back at WFSU! In her free time, she likes to read, travel, and watch her son play football. Follow Gina Jordan on Twitter: @hearyourthought

This is an image of Bill Shepherd, a lawyer in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C. and West Palm Beach offices. He is the former statewide prosecutor of Florida.
hklaw.com

The Florida Supreme Court issued a surprise ruling in late May regarding expert witness testimony. 

Six years ago, the Florida Legislature adopted the Daubert standard for expert witnesses in court cases. But the state’s high court exercised its right to keep the Frye standard in place, which sets a lower threshold for what can be considered expert testimony.

The makeup of the Florida Supreme Court changed last January when three retiring justices were replaced with appointments made by Governor Ron DeSantis. The newly revamped court quickly decided to implement the tougher standards.

David Hart, Executive Vice President of Government & Political Relations for the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
flchamber.com / Florida Chamber of Commerce

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Legislative Report Card. The chamber says the report card helps hold state leaders accountable for how they vote on issues relating to Florida’s business climate.

First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen addresses  gathering of Florida Associated Press broadcasters in Orlando.
Florida Associated Press Broadcasters

The First Amendment Foundation (FAF) in Tallahassee keeps watch over policy discussions that could impede the public’s right to know about government business.

“We track all bills that affect the public’s ability to oversee government and hold it accountable," says FAF president Barbara Petersen.

The foundation tracked 111 bills this year that would create new open government exemptions or extend current exemptions. 25 of them passed.

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program/flickr

Partners across the state are recognizing May as National Foster Care Month in Florida. The state has about 5,400 licensed foster homes, and there’s a need for more. Now, two bills relating to child welfare have passed the Florida Legislature and are headed to the governor’s desk.

"Many of you know that I served for 20 years in the United States military, and I’ve learned a thing or two about moving,” said Rep. Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers), telling House members about moving 13 times and being deployed to various countries.

“That was my choice, and I at least had a chance to voice my preference during the assignment process," Roach said. "That is not the case in Florida for our 24-thousand children who are languishing in Florida’s foster care system. 60 percent of those children have been in the process for 12 months or longer.”

 Mark Ward surveys the destruction of his neighbor's mobile home in Bay County, Fla. Ward and his neighbors say that the rural parts of the county have seen little help since Hurricane Michael.
Tamara Lush / Associated Press

Hurricane Michael was actually at Category 5 storm when it made landfall in Mexico Beach October 10. That's the official word today from scientists at the Natoinal Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Briney King lives in Panama city.

flickr

The legislature is working to implement a constitutional amendment that bans vaping in indoor workplaces. But another vaping proposal appears dead for this session.

A House committee this week shot down a bill that would have changed the definition of “tobacco products” to include nicotine products and devices that dispense them.

“In the last few years according to the FDA, electronic nicotine delivery systems has become an epidemic with youth," bill sponsor Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) told the committee. "One in 4 seniors in high school have been using it, and one in 10 youth in middle school have been using it.”

flgov.com

Governor Ron DeSantis has issued a proclamation making April Child Abuse Prevention Month. 

At a news conference at the Capitol Tuesday morning, the governor also announced the appointment of the First Lady to chair the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

Casey DeSantis says she’ll work with residents who relied on state services growing up.

myfloridahouse.gov

A bill (HB 1335) requiring minors to get a parent’s consent for abortions passed a House committee this week. The debate was mostly civil, but some audience members had to be escorted out.

Florida law says parents have to be notified when their daughters seek abortions. Under the proposal, parents would have to give their permission.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee heard from a string of women who’ve had abortions, but who have differing opinions about the bill.

Governor's Press Office

Tuesday was Coding Day at the capitol as part of an initiative to promote computer science education.

Students, some in elementary school, are lined up at computers getting ready to show off their work to state leaders.

“We need more computer scientists. We need more data scientists, and in the state of Florida alone there are 8,000 computing jobs open, not necessarily all for computer scientists," says Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Philanthropies for Microsoft. "Some of them are for individuals who might have a philosophy degree or a poetry degree and take a one-year certificate class.”

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

The Republican–controlled Legislature will be tasked with an unexpected job: deciding whether to allocate funds for environmental causes championed by the governor.

The environment wasn’t a priority under former Governor Rick Scott. Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, is taking a different approach - and raising eyebrows - as he seeks massive dollars to clean up the state’s water ways.

Now it's up to the Legislature to consider his funding request.

Leon Classroom Teachers Association

Update:  

The Leon County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a new contract for instructional staff.

"For one thing, I'm very happy we're putting money in the base salary. That's where the money needs to go," said board chair Rosanne Wood after the vote. "I wish for the future that we could talk the legislature into letting us take the money that they give us for bonuses and put it in the base salary because a teacher cannot get a mortgage for their house based on a bonus."

The Leon Classroom Teachers Association reports that 95 percent of the teachers who voted approved the contract.

Original story:

Leon County teachers are voting today on a new contract, and the Leon County School Board will vote at its meeting this evening at 6. 

Leon Classroom Teachers Association president Scott Mazur says the sides have reached a tentative agreement on a salary increase.

world vide news/flickr

Florida was among the first states to pass mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws in 1979.

The Legislature loosened those requirements in 1993, then reinstated them six years later.  Now, a sweeping proposal of criminal justice reforms in Tallahassee would again make changes.

A row of Tallahassee police cars
Tallahassee Police Department Facebook

The Tallahassee city commission has decided to scrap two plans: one to develop more parking in Midtown, and another that called for the building of a new headquarters for the Tallahassee Police Department on the Southside.

The Tallahassee city commission wants the city to be on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The goals are outlined in a resolution adopted by commissioners during their Wednesday meeting.

Thediamondguest/flickr

Final invoices are going out this week to SunPass customers who got caught in a billing backlog.

The problem began with a trouble-plagued update to the state’s toll road system, and issues that have bedeviled a SunPass contractor since last June still haven’t been completely worked out.

As the last invoices were being readied, the Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee got an update on the Sunpass debacle.

Roman Boed/flickr

The Florida Supreme Court has reversed course on a case regarding a minimum wage ordinance in Miami Beach.

Last year, the high court agreed to consider whether the city should be allowed to set its own minimum wage. Now, with three new justices on the bench, the court has decided not to hear the case. That means the lower court ruling against the city stands.

Twitter

Governor Ron DeSantis says he wants to get rid of all remnants of Common Core standards in Florida’s public schools.

At a high school in Cape Coral Thursday, DeSantis gave his newly appointed education commissioner some marching orders.

“We are doing an executive order that is going to instruct Commissioner Corcoran to get to work and come up with good standards for the state of Florida which will include eliminating Common Core and the vestiges of Common Core,” DeSantis said.

Common Core standards provide benchmarks for what students should learn in math and English by the end of each grade. Five years ago, Republican leaders made some changes to the benchmarks and dumped the name Common Core, opting instead for Florida Standards.

Telogia Creek/flickr

Police have made an arrest in two murders on Tallahassee’s south side. The latest victim was found last Saturday.

The suspect made his first court appearance Tuesday morning. 54-year-old Philip Ford is being held without bond.

Matthew Jones/flickr

Lawmakers are being asked to consider two competing proposals surrounding access to dental care. One would allow mid-level practitioners to be licensed, while the other would provide incentives to would-be dentists.

A coalition called Floridians for Dental Access wants the Florida Legislature to allow licenses for dental therapists.

Therapists have more training than a dental hygienist and less training than a dentist. They can perform services like filling cavities and pulling teeth.

Hard Quotes/flickr

Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program may be getting a $25-million boost. Lawmakers will consider a request next week by the Department of Education to increase funding due to higher-than-expected student participation.

The News Service of Florida reports the program got $520-million this year for merit-based scholarships to high school students who attend a Florida college or university.  

The requested increase comes as student loan debt has jumped in Florida in recent years. Orlando, Tampa, and Miami are among the top cities nationally that had the biggest jumps.

Dorioneill/flickr

A law that went into effect last July requires medical providers to check a statewide database before prescribing opioids for patients. Now, lawmakers are being asked to consider an exemption for doctors whose patients are terminally ill.

The law, known as House Bill 21 (HB21), targets controlled substances that are labeled as Schedule II or higher. That includes painkillers like OxyContin and codeine. These drugs are classified as having a high potential for abuse.

anu.edu.au

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis officially takes office on Tuesday.

The former Congressman stuck with Fox News as his media outlet of choice during the campaign, and he largely stayed quiet during the election recount.

Since then, his transition teams have been crafting policy plans.

edr.state.fl.us

Last week, a Florida Senate committee heard that a potential surplus of more than $220-million had likely disappeared for next year’s state budget because of Hurricane Michael.

This week, the outlook turned more positive, with analysts projecting a significant increase in state revenue over two years.

Budget analysts periodically meet inside a building next to the Capitol for what’s known as the Revenue Estimating Conference.


CareerSource Capital Region

It’s a job seeker’s market. The tri-county region of Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla has an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent. Help wanted signs are common, and it’s even worse for businesses that need extra help over the holidays.

CareerSource Capital Region CEO Jim McShane says his staff continues the push to match companies with workers who have the needed skills.

FilmFlorida.org

Florida’s share of film and television productions is waning as the state no longer offers tax credits for the industry. A new analysis finds Florida lawmakers may have good reason to reconsider those incentives.

The HBO series “Ballers” starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson was filmed in South Florida for its first two seasons. Then it moved to California – after Florida’s film tax credit program ended in 2016. The show is still going strong, now working on its fifth season.

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