State News

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Visit Florida has posted its third quarter tourism numbers, and some in the industry are calling a slowdown in visitor growth “jarring.” The state tourism agency says 31.6 million people visited the state between July and September – 28.6 million were coming from other states, 2.6 million from overseas and just under a half million from Canada.

A group of smiling people stand beside a sign reading, "suntrax." Clouds are above the group. The American and Florida Flags wave behind the sign. In the background is a white building.

Construction is underway for a new autonomous-vehicle test site in Florida. The Florida Department of Transportation is teaming up with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise to build the facility. 

The Florida Elections Commission is fining a former Escambia County school board candidate for campaigning as a Republican in a non-partisan seat.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

The chairman of Leon County’s Republican Party is ripping a federal judge’s ruling on ballot placement, which is already being appealed by the governor. At the same time, the head of Florida's Democratic Party is lauding the ruling as a "monumental" victory. 

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at a podium in his Press Office
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released his wish list for the 2020-2021 budget. It totals 91.4 billion, with much of that $400 million increase going to education. 

In the upcoming months state lawmakers will grapple with a decision: how to stabilize the budget of one of its healthcare agencies. The agency for persons with disabilities has run deficits in most years since it was created in the early 2000’s. Lawmakers have become increasingly frustrated about constantly having to backfill those deficits. Yet advocates are concerned over which chamber will get final say over how the agency moves forward.

Man stands in suit and tie with a microphone in his hand. People are sitting down and staring up at him.
Florida House of Representatives

Anger at Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission continues a year after Floridians approved several new plans put on the November 2018 ballot. 

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

A proposed interstate agreement that would create a true popular vote election is moving across the nation. This week, one of the plan’s original authors talked with state lawmakers during a lunch and learn event. WFSU spoke with Vik Amar about the idea he and his brother hatched nearly two decades ago.

College students crowd around podium.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

The Florida Student Association (FSA) is pushing lawmakers to fund programs for college students who are homeless and hungry. 

Tom Flanigan

The southern edge of Tallahassee's Railroad Square took on a distinctively Caribbean vibe on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 9-10. The celebration included music, food and island crafts.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Citing what they say is a tremendous public and private cost to Floridians from divorce, two Republican state legislators want to create a “Florida Guide to Healthy Marriages.” They’ve filed a bill to do so for the coming legislative session.

A pine tree that fell due to Hurricane Michael with an artificial cavity insert for Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers at Tall Timbers.
Eleanor Clark / WFSU-FM

Florida is the first state to receive block grants for the timber industry from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Florida House Panel Seeks Insight From Oregon On Impact Of Recreational Marijuana

Nov 8, 2019

Facing the possibility that Floridians could be asked next year to legalize recreational marijuana, a House panel on Tuesday turned to Oregon to learn more about the economic, environmental and health impacts the state has faced since authorizing adult pot use four years ago.

Chris Gibson, the executive director of the Oregon-Idaho High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, told the House Health & Human Services Committee that Oregon has seen millions of dollars in tax revenue and a spike in illicit drug use, and is currently dealing with an overproduction of marijuana.

A deep blue river winds past an orangey brown hill.
Kate Payne via WFSU

A U.S. Supreme Court appointed special master is considering whether Florida should get a larger share of the water flowing down the Apalachicola River. Judge Paul Kelly Jr. heard arguments in the case Thursday.

Florida A&M University’s Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative is developing a pilot program to teach K-12 students about medicinal cannabis. The program is being planned to start at the University’s developmental research school.

Houses along beach in Seadside
Erich Martin / WFSU

Florida lawmakers are trying to overrule Key West’s ban on certain sunscreen sales. They want the state – and not cities to regulate sales. The proposed law is moving up through the legislature.

Tamara Lush / AP Photo

Florida’s citrus industry is bracing for another difficult growing season. Florida Citrus Mutual CEO Mike Sparks says the deadly citrus greening disease, combined with loss of crops from Hurricane Irma, created a “perfect storm” for growers. He says that loss necessitated importing citrus.

Windermere Democratic Representative Geraldine Thompson explains a bill that would make several changes to the state's election process.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Orlando area lawmakers are proposing a bill that would help ensure every qualified citizen in Florida is able to vote. The legislators say changes are needed sooner rather than later.

Man in polo shirt stands at a podium with a cluster of microphones on top of it. Men in suits stand beside him. One person is holding a sign that reads, "I support protections against gay conversion." A camera is in the foreground recording Thomas.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU

Lawmakers are filing bills to stop counselors from practicing conversion therapy on minors. Former conversion therapy practitioners are rising to support the bill.

Florida’s tourism and marketing agency has powerful supporters the state senate Now one of its committee has backed a bill keeping the agency around for the next eight years. But Visit Florida’s survival largely depends on the house.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida Forest Service director Jim Karels  says there’s a good chance state block grants will be approved to help North Florida’s ailing timber industry. The subject-specific grants have never been given out for timber anywhere in the nation by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Five years after an amendment was added to Florida’s constitution to squirrel away money for buying conservation lands – the groups that pushed it are uniting behind a new common goal.

FEA Fund Our Future Tour Bus parked in the Capitol Courtyard between the current Capitol building and the Historic one.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Florida is near the bottom of the nation when it comes to teacher pay. Governor Ron DeSantis wants to change that by raising the base salary. But the state’s largest teacher union says the governor’s plans don’t go far enough. 

When he took office, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis set his sights on weeding out common core in K-12 education. Now, the governor says its replacement standards will be rolled out soon. In the meantime, ‘the Nation’s Report Card’ shows reading proficiency in the state has fallen in the past two years.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Statewide teachers union the Florida Education Association is taking umbrage with comments made by Governor Ron DeSantis this week, suggesting the organization is partisan.