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Capital Report: 01-18-2019

Governor Ron DeSantis wants the Florida Legislature to change the current law on smoking medical marijuana. Ryan Dailey reports DeSantis is asking courts to hold off on a decision in the lawsuit challenging a smoking ban. Now even some critics of DeSantis like Parkland parent and gun safety advocate Fred Guttenberg and former Democratic Congresswoman Gwen Graham are applauding the move.  

And while we’re on the subject of constitutional amendments…

Victims’ rights protections under Marsy’s Law are now enshrined in the Florida Constitution. But many state agencies are struggling to interpret the broad language, most recently law enforcement. Shawn Mulcahy reports.

The newest member of the powerful state board that regulates education in Florida is singularly focused on ousting the superintendent of the state's second-largest school district. Less than 48 hours before leaving office, then-Gov. Rick Scott tapped Andrew Pollack — whose daughter, Meadow, was killed in the Parkland school shooting — for the State Board of Education.  Jessica Bakeman with member station WLRN, spoke with Pollack this week.    

Hurricane Michael tore apart Northwest Florida in October leaving more than 20 million cubic square yards of debris. As Blaise Gainey reports, moves were made at both the state and federal levels to try and help recovery efforts.

Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program may be getting a 25-million-dollar boost. Lawmakers will consider a request next week by the Department of Education to increase funding due to higher-than-expected student participation.  The program got $520-million dollars 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.  A study released last month by the credit reporting agency Experian finds that Florida’s student loan debt is growing at a faster pace than all other states. Even so, a separate study by the personal finance website WalletHub last summer shows Florida graduates have less student loan debt overall than the rest of the country.  So why are Florida graduates amassing more debt these days – and are they worse off because of it?  Florida Public Radio’s Gina Jordan spoke with Mark Kantrowitz (KANN-troh-witz), publisher and Vice President of research at Saving For College dot com.