State News

A group of people gather around a podium at a church
Governor's Press Office / Executive Office of the Governor

Governor Ron DeSantis has signed off two major pieces of education legislation this week. They include giving more teachers the option of carrying guns, and creating a new voucher program.

First Amendment Foundation President Barbara Petersen addresses  gathering of Florida Associated Press broadcasters in Orlando.
Florida Associated Press Broadcasters

The First Amendment Foundation (FAF) in Tallahassee keeps watch over policy discussions that could impede the public’s right to know about government business.

“We track all bills that affect the public’s ability to oversee government and hold it accountable," says FAF president Barbara Petersen.

The foundation tracked 111 bills this year that would create new open government exemptions or extend current exemptions. 25 of them passed.

Nikki Fried's yellow and green sticker featuring her smiling face is stuck to a bright blue gas pump.
Regan McCarthy / WFSU News

Next time you get gas you might notice a new sticker on the pump featuring state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried’s face in front of a background of bright yellow, green and blue blocks. Fried’s staff says the new sticker is intended to attract attention and raise awareness about fraud and the use of gas pump skimmers. But the new design doesn’t seem to be popular with the legislature.

Florida Prisons Sued Over Solitary Confinement Practices

May 8, 2019
A view of a hallway from a jail cell.
Matthew Ansley / Unsplash

Florida is an “outlier” in prison systems across the nation when it comes to the use of solitary confinement, according to a 90-page federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that alleges the state Department of Corrections is violating the constitutional rights of inmates.

Rep. Matt Gaetz speaks at a committee meeting.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A Florida Bar investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has been forwarded to a grievance committee.

Hurricane Michael Debris marianna
Shawn Mulcahy / WFSU

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is slated to get nearly 4 million dollars from the federal government to help cover costs of debris removal following Hurricane Michael.

Florida Conservation Voters Facebook

The 2019 Legislative Session has wrapped, and advocacy group Florida Conservation Voters is weighing in on the highlights — and lowlights — of the past two months. Ryan Dailey spoke with FCV Deputy Director Jonathan Webber about the budget and some other big-ticket items that have him concerned.

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

Florida lawmakers extended their legislative session by one day to do the one thing they’re constitutionally required to do—pass a budget. Lawmakers held a final vote for their spending plan Saturday before adjourning Sine Die.

The Florida Legislature is expected to approve its final product of this year’s budget Saturday. But to close out the week, both chambers got their turn to weigh in on the spending plan one last time Friday.

files and a gavel. text reads "felon voting"
hafakot / Adobe Stock

Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that details how a felon would go about getting their voting rights restored. It comes on the final day of the regular legislative session and  after 5.1 million Floridians voted in November to give felons who’ve completed their sentence and did not commit a felony sexual assault or murder their voting rights back.

Sen. Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart)
Florida House of Representatives

Sharing someone else’s nude images on social media or through other “electronic means” will be a misdemeanor if Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a bill passed by the house and senate this week. The measure is part of an effort to curb harm done to victims of sexual cyber harassment.

zimmytws / Adobe Stock

Since January 8, felons have been registering to vote as long as they’ve completed their sentence, and did not commit a felony sexual offense or murder. But all session long the legislature has been trying to determine exactly who that excludes. The current bill includes attempted murder, and also makes a felon have to pay off any outstanding civil liens or obligations to the court as a result of their case.

Florida Senate

In the first legislative session since the passing of Senator Dorothy Hukill, lawmakers have pushed through a piece of legislation she backed for years. The bill creates a mandatory financial literacy course for high school students.

Florida Forest Service facebook

A bill that provides benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer is heading to Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk. It was met with some opposition.


Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

North Florida hasn’t gotten much help from outside sources following October's Category 5 Hurricane Michael. Keiser University made donations to the panhandle area, State and local officials used an event marking a $50,000 donation from Keiser University to continue drawing attention to the area's need for more financial assistance.

Ron DeSantis speaking at the podium.
Wilfredo Lee / AP

Governor Ron DeSantis says he backs Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido as President. This follows multiple conversations between DeSantis and National Security Director John Bolton.  

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Killing a law enforcement canine or horse in Florida will now come with a more severe penalty, up to triple the prison time. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law Wednesday flanked by officers and their four-legged partners.

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program/flickr

Partners across the state are recognizing May as National Foster Care Month in Florida. The state has about 5,400 licensed foster homes, and there’s a need for more. Now, two bills relating to child welfare have passed the Florida Legislature and are headed to the governor’s desk.

"Many of you know that I served for 20 years in the United States military, and I’ve learned a thing or two about moving,” said Rep. Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers), telling House members about moving 13 times and being deployed to various countries.

“That was my choice, and I at least had a chance to voice my preference during the assignment process," Roach said. "That is not the case in Florida for our 24-thousand children who are languishing in Florida’s foster care system. 60 percent of those children have been in the process for 12 months or longer.”

Steve Cannon / AP Photo

With the passage of this Legislative session’s marquee school choice bill, a new private school voucher program is on the verge of being created. Senate Bill 7070 is now on the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, who’s been a vocal supporter of school choice since before taking office. (Photo: Steve Cannon/AP)

mail-in ballots at the Leon County Supervisors of Elections office wait to go out (2018)
Tom Flanigan

A key elections bill backed by the state’s supervisors heading for final votes. The measure is meant to address issues stemming from the 2018 election but Democrats say it doesn’t do enough.

A group of lawmakers wearing suits stand behind Senator Hutson who is speaking at at a lecturn.
Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

A bill moving through the legislature would put local governments on the hook for attorney’s fees if they pass rules expressly preempted by the state.

Innovated Captures / Adobe Stock

It’s a known fact that smoking tobacco isn’t good for your heart, lung, and can cause cancer. But the leading groups on those very things are opposed to a bill that would raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. WFSU’s Blaise Gainey speaks with American Heart Association’s Government Relations Director Mark Landreth about why they oppose the proposed legislation.

Ryan Dailey

The Florida Legislature has passed a proposal to import prescription drugs from Canada and other countries. The measure will now land on the governor’s desk, and from there it will still require federal approval.

Antje Lindert-Rottke / Adobe Stock

An effort to raise the smoking age to 21 is moving forward. The bill’s sponsor hopes the deal will be enough to satisfy opponents and pave the way for greater restrictions on tobacco use.

Helloquence / Unsplash

Over the weekend, Governor Ron DeSantis signed off on 10 new laws. Some will go into effect as early as July. 

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