Lynn Hatter

News Director

Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has been a member of the WFSU news team since 2007 focusing on education and health care. She's an an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiatives.  When she’s not working, Lynn spends her time watching sci-fi and action movies, writing her own books, going on long walks through the woods, traveling and exploring antique stores. Follow Lynn Hatter on Twitter: @HatterLynn.

A proposal to decrease the number public universities in Florida from 12 to 10 continues to generate conversations in the legislature. New College and Florida Polytechnic are fighting to stay independent as lawmakers consider merging them into Florida State, and the University of Florida respectively. A third option has emerged: consolidating Polytech and New College into the University of South Florida.

A physics teacher writes on his chalkboard in a classroom.
Photo by Tra Nguyen / UnSplash

Florida lawmakers are again tinkering with the state’s school grading and testing system. The changes follow the rollout of new learning standards the Department of Education is using to replace Common Core. Teachers and school administrators worry the bill amounts to too much change, too fast, and say it could hurt schools that serve low-income students the most.

Florida's education and business industry are united in support of a bill that changes how the state's voluntary pre-kindergarten providers are rated and overseen. Still even as they support the plan, providers say the bill isn’t quite perfect.

Florida lawmakers appear to be done with bonus programs. The House and Senate have unveiled their proposed spending plans for the upcoming fiscal year, and neither proposal includes funding for teacher and principal bonuses.

Disability rights advocates say a plan to revamp administration of a key program  is now moving in the right direction. Florida Republican Sen. Aaron Bean has taken the lead on changes to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in an attempt to stop decades of budget deficits.  Advocates say changes to Bean’s proposal aren’t perfect, but they’re better than where he started.

The FL Supreme Court took up arguments in this week in a high profile death penalty case.
Nick Evans / WFSU News

The Florida Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that could restart debate over capital punishment. The state’s high court says a unanimous jury is no longer needed to impose the death penalty.

A man in a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie sits at a table surrounded by microphones
Ryan Dailey / WFSU News

Florida Senate President Bill Galvano has been under fire for accepting campaign contributions from gun control advocates and for supporting a universal background check bill. Now his colleagues—Republicans and Democrats, are coming to his defense. 

Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) chairs the Senate Banking and Insurance committee.
Nick Evans / WFSU News

Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores wants to change what she sees as an overly political and broken claims bill process. These bills are how people who’ve sued the state or local governments get the money they’re owed. Right now, the state caps how much money it pays out, often leading to long, drawn out legal battles and years of waiting for claims bill approval. 

Lieutenant Gov. Jeanette Nunez speaks during a press conference in 2019.
Governors Press Office / Executive Office of the Governor

Florida’s Lieutenant Governor has been making the rounds, promoting Governor Ron DeSantis’ legislative agenda. WFSU's Lynn Hatter sat down with Nunez recently to get her take on some of the big decisions state lawmakers are facing.

Florida Gov. Ron Desantis gives his state of the state address on the first day of legislative session, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

A decade ago a fight broke out in Florida over whether to require businesses to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure employees are eligible to work in the United States. The solution at the time was an executive order by then-Governor Rick Scott requiring state employers use E-Verify. Now the idea is back: pitched by governor Ron DeSantis and it’s no less controversial than it was a decade ago.

The program supporting thousands of Floridians with developmental and intellectual disabilities is likely in for an overhaul this year. Advocates had been relying on the Senate to save the ibudget program from being taken over by private companies. But some say Republican Senator Aaron Bean’s proposal might be worse.

An elderly woman sits with her hands folded on her lap. (undated photo)
Cristian Newman / Unsplash

The Florida Healthcare Association and AARP are talking to anyone who will listen. Their message: pay attention to long-term care. Florida’s population is getting older and according to federal data, in 10 years, a third of Floridians will be over 60. That milestone comes as the state’s funding for programs like home care, nursing home funding and caregiver support lags behind.

Tallahassee Classical School is among the organizations backing a bill that would allow high-performing charter schools that want to expand, to bypass local school boards. 

Lauren Book is a woman with black glasses and blonde hair. She sits at a desk and looks off to the left while speaking to the committee.
The Florida Channel

Democratic state Senator Lauren Book’s move to seek term limits for local school board members is a change from her previous position on the issue.

Sen. Lauren Book discusses her annual "Walk in My Shoes" event to highlight sexual abuse and human trafficking. 3/5/18
Ryan Dailey / WFSUNews

A push to term limit local school board members has gained a powerful Democrat: State Sen. Lauren Book. She's filed a constitutional amendment proposal to keep those board members from serving more than eight consecutive years in office.

When the Florida Legislature convenes on Jan. 14 for the start of its 60-day session, lawmakers will be faced with several important issues – with raising teacher pay and placing new limits on abortion among the top priorities.

Here is a list of several other issues the legislature will tackle during the session.

blonde woman in front of grey background blowing vapor out of her mouth
Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Under a new federal law, stores cannot sell tobacco products to anyone under 21. The federal Food and Drug Administration is also limiting the sale of e-cigarette and vaping flavors. It comes as bills to do both are pending in the Florida legislature ahead of the upcoming lawmaking session. While the federal moves are welcome, anti-smoking advocates say there's plenty work left for states. 

woman and horse
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU-FM

The most crowded local race in Leon County is shaping up to be in one of the county commission’s two at-large seats. Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley isn’t running for re-election, and with the entry of Kelly Otte — there are now seven people vying for the seat.

Mistletoe in its natural environment: the green, berry-filled plant hangs in a clump from branches of a live oak tree.
Rob Diaz de Villegas / WFSU-TV

If you’re NOT driving right now, raise your hand if you knew mistletoe grew on trees? If you did, great. If you didn’t, you’re like a number of people here at WFSU, including me, who had no clue, until we went outside the building, and looked up.

Gilliam wears a suit and tie. He sits alone at a square table with a microphone. Gilliam looks toward the camera.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

Tallahassee is police-chief-less after the man hired for the job rescinded his acceptance of the offer. City Manager Reese Goad says the move was unexpected, but City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow says the city shouldn't be surprised. 

A map of North Florida criss-crossed by black, red and blue lines showing highways
Florida Department of Transportation / https://floridamcores.com/

Three new toll roads planned for the state are supposedly coming with millions of dollars to upgrade city and county septic and sewer systems. But there’s little information on when and how the money will be distributed and who will be responsible for the work. 

Florida lawmakers are interested in addressing climate change. But they’re not setting any sort of renewable energy goals—which is something  democrats have proposed in the past. Instead, the Republican-led majority is focusing on making the state more adaptable to rising sea levels.

Jamee Johnson, 22, was killed by JSO Police on Sunday, 12/17/2019.
Office of Communications / Florida A&M University

A 22-year-old former Florida A&M University student is dead after a weekend officer-involved shooting following a traffic stop in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Sheriffs office, JSO, says he was resisting arrest.

Amid protestors stands a Milo supporter near the Union Green (2016).
Catherine Buckler / WFSU News

Are college and university campuses open markets for ideas or incubators of narrow thought? Some Republican lawmakers want to know what’s really happening in the state’s public higher education classrooms by asking students and professors to take an anonymous survey. But Democrats, and even some of those professors argue that’s a violation of free speech and are suspicious of the motives behind the plan. 

fishing boats
Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

Georgia officials are cheering and Florida environmentalists are feeling depressed. A special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court is recommending the body reject Florida’s request to cap Georgia’s water use in a long-running fight over the Apalachicola-Flint-Chattahochee River system. It’s the second time Florida has gotten an unfavorable outcome.

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