State News

Two men reporting a car crash for insurance claim
Paolese / Adobe Stock

In Florida, every car owner must have Personal Injury Coverage. The rule went into place 40 years ago and many say since then it’s gotten too expensive. Now lawmakers are looking into a new plan to revamp the system.

Florida Channel

A bill that removes time limits for prosecuting sexual assault of a minor has plenty of momentum in the Florida House. Meanwhile, its Senate sponsor who remains optimistic the bill will get moving in her chamber.

Close up on hands tied with handcuffs
Jan H. Andersen / Adobe Stock

Current Florida law requires kids being charged as adults to be held in regular jail while they wait for their trial. New federal standards that go into effect at the end of next year require minors to be held in juvenile detention centers, with few exceptions. Lawmakers are moving forward with a bill to make sure Florida is in compliance.

woman with long hair, turtle neck, and glasses, speaks into a microphone.
Phil Sears / AP Photo

Different forms of abuse often happen under the same roof. Now, a senate committee is backing a proposal to require child and animal abuse agencies to work together. Sen. Lauren Book (D-Plantation) is one of its supporters. She says cross-reporting between agencies will help prevent child abuse.

Florida Capitol with dolphin statues jumping in front of tall new capitol tower.
Nick Evans / WFSU News

Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program has come under fire after an Orlando Sentinel investigation reported some participating private schools have exclusionary policies toward LGBTQ students. The controversy has revived the school choice debate, and a rally is planned for the Capitol Tuesday.

Man and woman sit on a bench facing the sea
Matthew Bennett / Unsplash

Within the next decade, 25% of Floridians will be over 60, and so will most new residents relocating to the state. As Florida grays, there’s greater demands on healthcare and related services. State funding has fallen behind. Now Broward County thinks it has an idea to address the coming “Silver Tsunami” but it needs the legislature to help.

Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala speaks with reporters about her decision to not pursue the death penalty during her administration.
Renata Sago / WMFE

Governor Ron DeSantis has pulled another high-profile murder case from Orlando-area State Attorney Aramis Ayala. He cited her objections to the death penalty as the prime reason.

Business concept with calculator, judge gavel, money and documents.
Evlakhov Valeriy / Adobe Stock

More than 97% of criminal cases in the U.S. are resolved through plea deals. But sometimes those offers are better for defendants who have more money. Lawmakers say that’s not fair and are trying to fix it.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

When a child is born, the first months spent with parents can be crucial for development. A bill in Florida’s House and Senate looks to give parents with a newborn paid time off from work – but not everyone is sold on it.

sings hung on a fence that have encouraging messages on them.
Dan Meyers / Unsplash

Programs to help people with psychosis could receive more state funding under a new proposal moving through the legislature.

Florida democrats are pushing for changes in the state’s corporate tax scholarship program laws after an Orlando Sentinel investigation found some religious schools that accept the scholarships discriminate against LBTQ children and their families. Democrats are calling on Republicans to stop those practices, but one powerful Republican says there’s not a problem. Meanwhile, some observers say the Democrats’ plan clashes with the rights of private schools to run their programs as they see fit.

The Iowa Caucuses will be held Monday, and for the first time, some of those caucuses will be taking place outside the state of Iowa. One of them will be held in the Pensacola area.

"I'm Jim Benda. My hometown, I live now in Clive, Iowa, which is a suburb of Des Moines," said Benda introducing himself.

woman holds child hand.
Guillaume de Germain / Unsplash

When a baby is getting adopted, the state seals their original birth certificate and they’re issued a new one. According to the Bureau of Vital Statistics, in Florida, adult adoptees can’t get their original birth certificate without consent from both their adoptive and birth parents. However, a bill by Rep. Richard Stark (D-Weston) seeks to change that. 

Jamee Johnson
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Twenty-two-year-old Jamee Johnson had plans to graduate this Spring from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University alongside his sister. But in December he was killed by police officers during a traffic stop in Jacksonville. His family is demanding more answers and some lawmakers joined that call at the Capitol Thursday.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

The Florida House education committee has approved its proposed school safety package. The measure makes a number of updates, including giving the education commissioner more power to force compliance on state requirements.

Florida lawmakers appear to be done with bonus programs. The House and Senate have unveiled their proposed spending plans for the upcoming fiscal year, and neither proposal includes funding for teacher and principal bonuses.

Mathieu Cheze / Unsplash

When someone dies without a will, their land typically goes to family. It becomes so called “heirs' property.” However, if relatives can’t decide what to do with it, families could wind up in court, and the judge could place the land up for auction. Rep. Loranne Ausley (D-Tallahassee) says often this results in families losing their property. So, she’s backing a bill to give courts a framework when dealing with these cases.

DNA-Helix - 3D Visualisierung / Adobe Stock

The Florida House has done its part to make sure life, disability and long term care insurers can’t use a person’s genetic data against them. The bill, approved by the House Wednesday, adds to protections already in place by the federal government. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has been adamant about the need to make the change.

View of typical American school building exterior
littleny / Adobe Stock

Most elected officials in Florida have term limits. That includes the Governor, members of the House and Senate and the state’s Congressional Delegation. Local school board members however don’t have those restrictions. A lawmaker is trying to give voters the opportunity to change that.

Rebekka Behr and Robert Latham stand back to back with their arms crossed inside the Capitol. The space behind them has colorful decorations for Children's Week.
Robert Latham

A series of bills about the foster care system is moving through the Florida Legislature.

Rebekka Behr is focused on the Foster Youth Bill of Rights, which she says will take “all the rights that are already in law and (place) them into one document so that it makes it easier for youth to understand what their rights are as well as those in their case plan.”

It’s important for Behr, who aged out of Florida’s foster care system. She’s now 21-years-old and serves as the fundraising chair for Florida Youth Shine (FYS), a youth-led advocacy group working to improve the child welfare system.

Local school board, city and county commissioners could soon be allowed to carry guns during public meetings. Rep. Mel Ponder (R-Fort Walton Beach) is sponsoring the plan; it cleared a key committee Tuesday.

Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Fifteen months. That’s how long it’s been since Hurricane Michael upended the lives of many Floridians living in the panhandle. For some of them, not much has changed since. They blame that on insurance companies. Tuesday Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis held a press conference with victims of the Category 5 Hurricane to highlight legislation he says will help speed up the process.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

A committee bill in the Florida House looks to move the state Office of Energy out from under its current agency. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is calling it a “power grab” by Republicans.

State Workers Urge Legislators To Raise Their Wages, Too

Jan 28, 2020

State workers rallied at the Florida Capitol Building to demand legislators address their needs. Since Governor Ron DeSantis made the push to increase teacher pay, state workers say they desire raises too. Specifically, they are asking for a 5% pay increase. 

Disability rights advocates say a plan to revamp administration of a key program  is now moving in the right direction. Florida Republican Sen. Aaron Bean has taken the lead on changes to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in an attempt to stop decades of budget deficits.  Advocates say changes to Bean’s proposal aren’t perfect, but they’re better than where he started.