Tom Flanigan

Program Director for News

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, with a focus on covering local news personalities, issues and organizations.  He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and  covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas and his home state of Maryland.  In between, he spent a number of years in corporate communications for a few private firms, time that he calls “invaluable” for giving him a greatly expanded media perspective.  During the relatively rare times he’s not racing to cover various community events and activities, Tom enjoys reading and playing guitar (He was a professional drummer in a previous life and is trying to expand his musical horizons). Follow Tom Flanigan on Twitter: @flanigan_tom.

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Amtrak’s Sunset Limited passenger train hasn’t been on North Florida rails since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  Now, as Tom Flanigan reports, there’s a growing effort to get that train back on track.

Florida House and Senate conferees have begun trying to work out the differences between the two chambers’ versions of the new state budget.  Nearly all the budget-balancing emphasis has been on spending cuts, but one way to boost state revenue is still alive in the senate.  Tom Flanigan reports a Capital City meeting was the site of a pro-and-con debate on that idea.

Two of the more controversial issues facing this year’s Florida Legislative Session wound up on the agenda of the House Economic Affairs Committee Friday.  As Tom Flanigan reports, the committee sent the bills covering both matters to the house floor after much debate.

When it comes to property taxes, Florida’s local governments usually find themselves on the opposite side of the issue from the state’s business community.  But Tom Flanigan reports there was a rare show of agreement Thursday  during the Senate Finance and Tax Committee meeting.

Senator Nancy Detert brought what’s called a “Senate Joint Resolution” before the committee.

“This is a proposed amendment to the constitution that, if adopted, would provide additional property tax exemption for tangible personal property.”

At just about every legislative committee meeting in Tallahassee, there will be lobbyists lining up to speak for or against various bills.  Tom Flanigan reports there was a unique group of lobbyists Tuesday before the Senate K-through-Twelve Education Committee.

Committee member Bill Montford, Democrat from Tallahassee, rose to explain his bill…

Monday’s meeting of the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee began peacefully enough.  But Tom Flanigan reports things quickly turned tense when members began debating a bill that would change the state’s laws governing foreclosure.

Going into this year’s Florida Legislative Session, it appeared property insurance might finally drop off of lawmakers’ radar screens.  But Tom Flanigan reports, with three weeks to go in the session, the issue is once again a matter of some debate.

It seems nearly everyone at the Florida Capitol now agrees that personal injury protection or “PIP” insurance fraud is a big problem.  Tom Flanigan reports the only thing those people disagree about is how to fix the problem.

The scene is the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, named after former State Senator Pat Thomas, just west of Tallahassee.  Dozens of people are huddled under a leaky tent as a heavy rain falls.  A Florida Highway Patrol trooper tells the crowd what’s about to happen…

A Florida Senate Committee tackled a bill Tuesday to prohibit lawmakers from working for a state college or university.  Tom Flanigan reports the bill failed after much impassioned discussion

The bill was proposed by Jacksonville Republican John Thrasher.  It would set up rules for public officials to use blind trusts in the event their business or other activities might present a conflict of interest.  Thrasher’s bill would tighten financial reporting requirements.  And it would do one other thing…

The Florida Legislature is now halfway towards its goal of a state budget for the coming fiscal year.  Tom Flanigan reports the House plan passed on a strict party line vote Thursday.  The Senate is expected to have its version of the budget ready for a vote sometime next week.

After several years of steady decreases, Florida businesses have seen recent hikes in their workers’ compensation payments.  Tom Flanigan reports a house committee was trying to reverse that trend Thursday.

Wednesday’s  Florida House Session was a marathon.  Tom Flanigan reports members kicked things off promptly at a quarter-til-eleven in the morning and were scheduled to plow through the budget process until seven in the evening.

There was a palpable sense of urgency in the Florida House of Representatives today:

“We are officially today at the halftime point of our sixty-day session.  And last week we passed the redistricting bills and today we’ll begin consideration of the second of our two constitutional duties, which is to pass a balanced budget.”

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After more than a dozen years away from Tallahassee City Hall, former Mayor Scott Maddox says he’s ready to go back.  Tom Flanigan reports Maddox announced his city commission campaign Wednesday.

Maddox announced his plans in the downtown park near the Doubletree Hotel:

“It’s my pleasure to be here to announce my candidacy for the city commission, seat one.”

That’s the seat being vacated by the retiring Mark Mustian.  Maddox supporters include local businessman Kim Williams:

Local horse-lovers will celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early…at the “Have a Heart 4 Horses” Fundraiser to help abused and neglected equines.  Tom Flanigan has the story.

The horse was Indie, short for Independence, since he’d been born on the Fourth of July.  The email was from Triple-R Horse Rescue to Lynn O’Connor. 

A different kind of gas station is being built on Tallahassee’s west side.  Tom Flanigan reports this station will dispense natural gas, both for Leon County school buses and anyone else who wants to use it….

Hundreds of people ignored the occasional raindrops to attend Tuesday’s groundbreaking near the corner of Capital Circle and Highway Twenty.  Governor Rick Scott even added the occasion to his schedule.

Some homeowners who have policies with Citizens Property Insurance may suddenly find themselves with a different insurer.  Tom Flanigan reports the Florida House has passed a bill that allows mostly unregulated carriers to take over many of Citizens’ customers.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Representative Jim Boyd of Bradenton, seemed a model of brevity and simplicity.

“This bill is a Citizens depopulation bill by surplus lines carriers with increased solvency standards and that’s the bill, Mr. Speaker.”

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Forty-one states have a full or partial ban on texting while driving.  Florida is one of just eight states that have no such laws on the books.  Tom Flanigan reports it appears that situation is unlikely to change as a result of the 2012 lawmaking session….

Steve Augello of Spring Hill has been bringing his tragic story to Tallahassee for years:

A Tallahassee hospice throws a chocolate-based bash this Saturday.  Tom Flanigan reports the proceeds will help families who otherwise wouldn’t have access to end-of-life services.

Lydia Claire Brooks is with Covenant Hospice.  It came to Tallahassee in 2003.

Last year, Florida lawmakers didn’t approve a bill giving all state workers the same contribution for their health coverage.  But Tom Flanigan reports that bill may be more successful this year.

Governor Rick Scott had pushed the idea almost from the moment he took office.  All State of Florida employees would get five thousand dollars a year to help them buy health insurance, whether individual or family coverage.   That concept resurfaced in the House Health and Human Services Committee, chaired by Robert Schenck, Republican of Spring Hill.  

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The Florida casino gambling debate rages on, not just at the State Capitol, but also on the luncheon speaker circuit.  Tom Flanigan reports hundreds of Capitol Tiger Bay Club members were treated to a casino pro-and-con showdown Tuesday.

While a Florida Senate Committee was considering alternative fuels for the state’s power plants Monday, an alternative energy car was attracting attention just a few miles from the Capitol.  Tom Flanigan reports the car is part of a growing movement to power motor vehicles with natural gas instead of gasoline.

Florida’s state employees may not have received a raise in years, but the lowest-paid state workers could be in line for a new benefit.  Tom Flanigan reports a Senate committee has voted to allow those employees to enroll their children in Florida’s low-income healthcare service.

For years, children in Florida’s low-income families have had an option for low-cost medical coverage called “Kidcare”.  But members of the Senate’s Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee learned Thursday that one group of low-paid Floridians doesn’t have that option available to them.

Monticello’s historic opera house will be serving up a tasty musical buffet this Friday and Saturday.  Tom Flanigan reports the event will become a future “From the Heart Music Hour” on WFSU-TV.

Growing up in Pensacola during the sixties, Jim White was exposed to a surprising variety of musical influences.

“There was one radio station in town that played popular music and it played anything from schlock psychedlia to straight-up-country like Bobbi Gentry to the series of Motown artists that came out to pop, rock…it played everything.”

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The debate on how to reduce personal injury protection insurance fraud was raging again in the Florida Legislature Wednesday.  Tom Flanigan reports those supporting the House’s solution held a noon pep rally in the Capitol Rotunda.  Meanwhile, consumer advocates are favoring the Senate’s less sweeping approach to the problem.

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Florida hospitals could see big cuts in what they’re paid for treating Medicaid patients.  A key state house committee moved to include those cuts in the health and human services part of next year’s state budget  Tuesday.  Tom Flanigan reports that took place as a “who’s-who” of Florida health care took part in a ribbon cutting less than two miles from the Capitol.

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