State News

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the constitutionality of a law that allows certain felons to vote but requires them to pay any fees associated with their sentence first. Critics call the new rule a poll tax. But the bill’s author argues he simply followed the language voters approved in a 2018 amendment. Now the Judge presiding over the case is questioning whether the amendment itself violates the constitution. I spoke with ACLU lawyer Julie Ebenstein to get the groups' view.

American Public Power Association

A proposed amendment to Florida’s constitution would deregulate and open up competition for investor-owned utility companies. This week, attorneys for the amendment’s backers faced tough questions from the Florida Supreme Court about its ballot language.

Florida Supreme Court
Nick Evans / WFSU News

The Florida Supreme Court has agreed to answer Governor Ron DeSantis’s question about whether the state can make felons pay restitution, fines, and fees before allowing them to register to vote.

Opioid painkillers layed out on a table.
irissca / Adobe Stock

In Florida, an estimated 17 people die every day from opioid abuse. To combat the issue, Attorney General Ashely Moody and Governor Ron DeSantis have created a new statewide task force. The group is charged with developing best practices for opioid abuse prevention through education, treatment, and law enforcement. Two recently appointed board members spoke about how they hope to help.

Dorian Strengthening North of Puerto Rico

Aug 29, 2019

Hurricane Dorian has strengthened late Wednesday night. As of 5 am, The National Hurricane Center says Dorian is about 150 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico and has top sustained winds near 85 mph. It is moving toward the northwest at about 13 mph.

Multiple reports of hurricane-force winds occurred near St. Thomas, as Dorian crossed the Virgin Islands Wednesday afternoon.

Florida Channel

The Florida Supreme Court is weighing approval of ballot language for a proposed amendment that would deregulate and open up competition for investor-owned utility companies. Justices heard oral arguments Wednesday.

Dorian Strengthening, Threat to Florida Increasing

Aug 28, 2019

Update at 11:15 am Wednesday: Tropical Storm Dorian has strengthened and has maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, which is just shy of the 74 mph threshold for a hurricane. The National Hurricane Center says Dorian is forecast to become a hurricane soon, perhaps as early as this evening. 

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida’s Supreme Court on Wednesday will weigh approval of ballot language for a proposed amendment to deregulate investor-owned utilities. Should the proposed amendment ultimately pass, customers would be able to choose their own provider, but one group says it would jack up rates.

Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Tuesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency gave more than $6 million to cities in the Florida panhandle to reimburse them for debris removal and repairing public utilities after Hurricane Michael. Congressman Neal Dunn spoke to entrepreneurs in Tallahassee about his plan to help with the recovery.

From the left Appropriations Chairs Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Lutz, and Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, begin the compromise process as full conference committee met June 11, 2015, while finalizing key portions of the state's budget within Criminal and Civil Just
Mark Foley / Florida House of Representatives

Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran isn’t shy about his support for charter schools and the state’s private school voucher program. He championed school choice policies during his stint in the legislature. But his placement as chief of the state’s education system, is beginning to worry public school leaders. Recent comments about the future of public education has raised alarm bells for supporters of traditional public schools. 

Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Monday makes it 99 years since congress cemented the right for women to vote was amended into the U.S. Constitution. Women across the nation used the day to push for another amendment the Equal Rights Amendment to be ratified.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

University of South Florida anthropologists are planning to take another look at the grounds of the infamous Dozier School for Boys. The move comes after a search for “anomalies” on the property turned up mostly tree roots.

Florida Department of Education budget presentation 12/7/17.
Florida Department of Education

Florida’s largest teachers union is calling for a 10-year, $22 billion  investment into the state’s public schools. The Florida Education Association is calling its plan the "Decade of Progress."

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Former Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox has been removed from office by Governor Ron DeSantis. Maddox pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. But the one-time state Democratic Party chair remains an active candidate for a state senator seat. WFSU spoke with several elections experts about what would bar candidates from getting onto a ballot.

Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, listens to the debate on his sponsored felon voting rights bill during session Wednesday April 24, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla.
Steve Cannon / AP Photo

After a new law allowing some felons to regain the right to vote went into effect, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit calling the law unconstitutional. The group says the implementing bill doesn’t follow an amendment passed by voters. And argues the laws’ financial obligations create a poll tax and cut the number of eligible felons in half.

Inside of a mall with very few shoppers.
Marcin Kempa/Unsplash

Analysts say chances are increasing that Florida will enter a recession soon.

“Currently, Florida’s probability of being in a recession in the next 9 months is 34.2%,” says Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish.

The number is from The Florida Scorecard, the chamber foundation’s online tool that identifies and tracks key metrics important to Florida’s economy.

The State Board of Education has approved a new rule, making schools accountable for providing substance abuse education. 

Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday that Florida will be joining an electronic network to help the state’s supervisors of elections make sure people aren’t registered in more than one state. Former Leon County Supervisor of Election Ion Sancho explains how the system works.

Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, answers questions during debate over his House Bill 7089 - Voting Rights Restoration,Tuesday April 23, 2019 in the Florida House of Representatives in Tallahassee, Fla.
Phil Sears / AP Photo

The constitutionality of a Florida 2018 amendment allowing certain felons to vote after paying back fines, fees, and restitution is now at question. That comes after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the implementing bill.

A group of people hold signs at a gun safety rally. In the center is a woman holding a white posterboard with the words "Enough is Enough" written in black marker.
Lydell Rawls / WFSU

Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) wants to repeal gun safety legislation passed in Florida after the deadly Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting last year in Parkland. He says the measures, including a state ban on bump stocks, the so called red flag law and a provision raising the age to purchase a rifle violate the Second Amendment. He also says firearms aren’t the cause of mass shootings. Instead he points his finger at the use of psychotropic drugs, like Ritalin.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Last week, the U.S. Attorney for Florida’s Northern District said he’s willing to step in and prosecute marijuana offenses that the state attorney will not. On Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe offered more specifics.

Handgun with rifle
Mariusz Blach / Adobe Stock

Earlier this month the state’s financial impact estimating group struggled to define certain portions of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban assault weapons. Friday the group met again, and this time they invited the petition sponsor to help clarify portions of the proposal.  

During a hearing Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle asked lawyers to weigh in on whether a 2018 amendment allowing certain felons to vote is constitutional.

John Raoux / AP Photo

State tourism wing Visit Florida is reporting record tourism numbers for the first half of 2019.

rocky hanna in a red shirt speaking at podium
Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

After a software error caused confusion and delays with bus routes, Leon County Schools is making changes.

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