State News

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a series of upcoming changes on Saturday. Those include stocking hopsitals with a drug tauted to be a potential treatment for COVID-19, more funds for local governments, and another quarantine checkpoint.

Distance Learning For Students With Disabilities

Mar 27, 2020
two boys lean on a window sill. Hanging above them are potted plants. In between the two boys are three glass bottles.
Andrew Seaman / Unsplash

As Florida schools switch to distance learning, districts are brainstorming how to give services to students with disabilities. However, that may be challenging in the new digital landscape. 

John Raoux, File / AP Photo

As some U.S. state leaders have issued shelter-in-place orders statewide, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has pushed the decision down to local governments, some of which are doing so. DeSantis is facing partisan pressure to lock the state down.


Gun sales across the country are surging and in Florida, there have been several record-setting days in the past few weeks. Tallahassee-based Red Hills Arms is struggling to keep up with demand and its owners say as is the case with other gun stores, it's seeing a boom in first-time buyers.

two pillows on a bed near a window
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Florida’s Emergency Response Team is collaborating with the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association to gauge how hotels could help with the state’s response to the coronavirus. The organizations are polling hotels owners to find out whether they would be willing to house first responders and people wishing to self-quarantine. Officials are also looking into the option of asking hotels to open up beds for Covid-19 patients should a shortage arise in hospitals.

AP Photo/John Raoux / WSJ

In Florida’s prison system, if employees test positive for COVID-19, or are suspected of having been in contact with someone who has, they’ll have to use the personal leave time they've accrued when sent home for quarantine.

Black and white close up of a Wall Street traffic sign
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As the stock market plummets amid coronavirus fears, retirement accounts have also plunged.

Certified Financial Planner Terri Jackson has seen 30 years of economic roller coasters. As president of Jackson Financial Group in Tallahassee, she’s handling many clients who want to buy into the market now that stocks are available at deep discounts.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is creating unprecedented demands for help on virtually every government service in Florida. At the top of the list is the state unemployment assistance program, which is widely regarded as one of the stingiest of any state. 

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

Governor Ron DeSantis is urging calm as people grow increasingly anxious about their health and economic future amid coronavirus fears. It’s been weeks of upheaval and the governor says he’s worried about the effect the responses to the coronavirus will have on mental health.

Man stands at voting machine to cast his ballot.
Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida voters could be asked to open the state’s primaries to everyone, regardless of party affiliation. The Florida Supreme Court has approved the “All Voters Vote” amendment for the November ballot, over the united objection of the Republican and Democratic parties. 

Woman in white t-shirt with grey backpack
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School officials across the state are preparing for a worst-case scenario. Schools remaining closed through April 15. Schools were slated to return March 30, but the Florida Department of Education says to expect a longer Spring Break. 

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Florida was one of four states voting yesterday amid the coronavirus. There were calls to postpone but officials decided to push forward and voters did the same.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Tuesday closing bars and nightclubs statewide for 30 days. WFSU spoke with one bar owner who’s grappling with the uncertainty of her employees’ livelihoods.

A glass of beer up close
GrassLands Brewing Co. / WFSU News

Governor Ron DeSantis is signing an executive order today closing all bars and nightclubs for the next 30 days. He also suggests beach groups of no more than 10 people.

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

Many Floridians will be heading to voting precincts this morning to cast a ballot in the presidential preference primary. Officials say all are expected to go smoothly despite concerns over the coronavirus.

Several couples holding drinks are splashing in the ocean
Photo by Wells Baum on Unsplash

As spring breakers flock to Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis calls their gatherings “problematic.” DeSantis said large groups on the beach, as well as crowded bars and restaurants could put more people at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

Florida Lawmakers Agree On $92B Budget Deal

Mar 15, 2020
A pile of U.S. Dollar bill notes
Sharon Mccutcheon / Unsplash

Legislative leaders completed a roughly $92 billion budget on Saturday afternoon, settling numerous education and health care issues as they fine-tuned the state spending plan in anticipation of an economic hit from the novel coronavirus.

Senate budget chief Rob Bradley and his House counterpart Travis Cummings said the fiscal plan could be available to the public Sunday evening or early Monday, setting off a 72-hour cooling off period. Lawmakers will return to Tallahassee Wednesday or Thursday to vote on the budget before sending it to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling upon state agencies to suspend licensing renewal requirements, as well as hire more staff for the Department of Health among other changes. This comes as more Floridians are testing positive for the coronavirus.

Man with light shirt and tie stands in front of book shelves
Florida Department of Health

News about the coronavirus loomed large as Florida senators debated the confirmation of Scott Rivkees as the state’s surgeon general.  Rivkees has been acting as surgeon general since Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him last year, but lawmakers didn’t make it official until now.

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Rep. Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers) has been pushing a proposal allowing judges to decide whether a transition plan is appropriate when transferring a child out of temporary custody and into full custody of a parent.

Steve Cannon / AP Photo

Controversial legislation mandating public employers use E-Verify, with a carve-out for private employers to use other means of verifying employee’s citizenship status, has passed the Florida legislature. After numerous changes, the measure is a far cry from what some GOP backers wanted.

Frank Augstein / AP Photo

Vaping has become a problem amongst teens, so much so that the federal government has chosen to raise the legal age to smoke tobacco to 21, which includes vaping. Now, legislators in Florida are sending a law to Governor Ron DeSantis that would implement that federal change, and a lot more.

Man sits down next to fire truck.
John Raoux / AP Photo

A bill to make peer support more confidential among first responders is heading to the governor's desk.

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Pharmacists could soon test, screen, and treat various sicknesses under a proposal making its way to the governor's desk. 

Phil Sears / AP Photo

A bill that would expand eligibility for two of the state’s major school voucher programs is still in play, with just a day to go for Florida lawmakers to hear bills. On Thursday, the Senate has rejected an amendment that sparked heated debate.