State News

This has been a frustrating week for one of the Legislature's most outspoken members – Sen. Tom Lee (R-Brandon), is in his 20th year in the chamber, and the former Senate President has never been shy about his opinions. Lee recently spoke bluntly about being "run over" by fellow Republicans.

Jail inmates playing chess in cell, prison hobby
motortion / Adobe Stock

With time winding down bills that haven’t gotten a first hearing are starting to near their death. One measure running out of time would allow non-violent prisoners to be released sooner. It would increase the amount of time off for good behavior. Gain time bill sponsors are trying to rally support.

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.

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Who’s going to serve as the local arts agency going forward? That’s one of the issues to be discussed at the upcoming Leon County Commission meeting this coming Tuesday. 

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

As Florida’s House and Senate undergo budget conferences, one sticking point seems to be the state’s land acquisition fund, Florida Forever. Ryan Dailey spoke with Florida Conservation Voters’ Deputy Director Jonathan Weber about the fund, both chambers’ approach to funding it, and FCV’s Gems Report – a guide to what land is been bought for conservation and why. 

people stand in the florid legislature
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

If signed by the governor, minors in Florida would need parental consent to get an abortion. If they don't have a parent, a guardian can step in. So far, 26 states have passed similar laws.

Florida is planning a major expansion of its highways with a series of toll roads that would open new parts of the state to development.

Exactly where the roads will go hasn't been announced yet, but opposition to the highways is growing in rural areas such as Jefferson County in North Florida. Mike Willis' family has lived there since before Florida became a state. He likes to refer to it as "the other Florida."

"Most people think of Florida as palm trees, white sandy beaches," he says. "We have rolling clay hills and beautiful pine forests."

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition is pushing the state clemency board to ease its rules and clear the way for more felons to regain their rights. The move comes amid an ongoing court battle over 2018's Amendment 4 which restored voting rights to most felons, and a law implementing the amendment which requires them to pay restitution, fines and fees before registering to vote.

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If you’ve ever streamed music or browsed the internet during a road trip in Florida, you might have noticed the service can be spotty. Now lawmakers are looking into a plan to increase broadband access for rural communities.

Sen. Ben Albritton (R-Bartow) lives in a rural area and frequently deals with poor internet service.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida’s college system wants to add more resources for veterans, which could honor training they got in the military with class credits. House and Senate sponsors are trying to help that effort along, with a bill that would create what they’re calling the Patriot’s Path program.

Photo by Breno Assis on Unsplash

Florida lawmakers are considering a change they hope will make the state’s affordable housing dollars go further.

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

A senate bill expanding who must report child-on-child sexual abuse and when, is drawing pushback over the inclusion of home schools. 

Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation)  wants greater reporting of suspected child abuse. SB 7000 seeks to increase penalties for educational and early childlhood providers who fail to report known and suspected abuse of minors to the Child Abuse Hotline. It includes a year suspension for those who do not report.

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.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is seen, Tuesday, June 11, 2019, in Atlanta.
Andrea Smith / AP Photo

Indigent felons can’t be required to pay fines and fees left over from their sentence before they can register to vote, according to a ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld a lower court decision declaring a Florida law unconstitutional. 

Man walks along beach. Giant tree roots are to the right and left of him.
Photo provided by Susan Cerulean, wife to Jeff Chanton

Climate change could soon be a factor state agencies use when determining whether plants and animals are considered endangered or threatened. It also would ban agencies from considering economic factors when making those decisions.

Stdents with books on their laps, legs crossed.


Businesses could get an extra incentive to hire more interns through a proposal  being heard in Florida’s legislature.  The “Internship Tax Credit Program,” would reward up to $2,000 in tax credits for each intern an employer hires. 

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Rep. Michael Grant’s bill allowing the state to usurp local governments on licensing for certain jobs is heading to a vote by the full House. Meanwhile, Democrats in the chamber are taking a fine-tooth comb to the measure.

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Florida lawmakers say it should be a crime for fertility doctors to inseminate patients with their own sperm without consent. Several cases have popped up recently as the popularity of at-home genetic testing has grown--revealing the actions of unscrupulous doctors. But most states have no laws against the act.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

As Republican and Democratic Florida lawmakers push criminal justice reform bills through both chambers, law enforcement groups published a report they say legislators should contemplate. The Florida Sheriffs and Police Chiefs associations are trying to prove low-level drug offenders are violent, and took that argument to the Capitol Tuesday.

Boy holds sign that reads, "Trans Rights Are Human Rights." Symbol of a fist pumping up to the sky is on the poster.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU-FM

Florida lawmakers want to clarify the rights parents have in schools. The Parents' Bill of Rights allows parents to object to school materials based on religion, morals, and more.

Phil Sears / AP Photo

A handful of bills in the legislature this session would allow college athletes to get paid for their name, image and likeness. Only one is moving through the Senate. On Monday, it got some significant changes.

Sen. Jason Pizzo (D-Miami), wants Juneteenth to be a national holiday. He also wants it to have a higher profile in Florida. 

Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit in Georgia’s Northern District say they’re seeking to "prevent the collapse of the Apalachicola ecosystem in Florida."

people attend a candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

It’s been two years since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting that left 17 dead. Since then, the legislature has passed several laws in an attempt to prevent more gun violence. Some of the changes include arming teachers, raising the legal age to purchase guns, and removing weapons from people who police are worried might harm themselves or others--the so-called red flag law. This session, Senate President Bill Galvano (Bradenton-R) asked lawmakers to study the causes behind gun violence, but so far not a lot is happening.

man sits on plush sofa. His hand is covering his face.
Nik Shuliahin / Unsplash

Mental health is on the minds of Florida lawmakers. Proposals tackling suicide prevention, psychosis treatment, and insurance are pending before the legislature.