State News

J Pat Carter / AP Photo

A class action lawsuit against the Florida Department of Education claims teachers weren’t fully paid bonuses they were promised. The state’s embattled Best & Brightest bonus program is once again under fire.

A woman protests with a sign that reads "NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL."
Alan Diaz / AP

The city of South Miami and immigrant advocacy groups are suing the state of Florida over a new law that bans sanctuary cities and requires local officials to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Marijuana plants in a grow house.
Eric Risberg / AP

The Florida House of Representatives wants a say in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of state medical marijuana regulations. The chamber's lawyers asked a Tallahassee appeals court Tuesday for a chance to intervene.

A blue tarp is strapped onto the roof of Callaway's one-room schoolhouse. The school is slanted over the green landscape it rests on.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU

The city of Callaway must dismantle and piece back its one-room schoolhouse to save its historical value after being damaged by the storm.

Cannabis Factory
Claude Jin / Adobe Stock

Florida courts have spoken. They say the state’s medical marijuana distribution system is unconstitutional, and that could soon force the legislature and the industry to make changes.

Jars Of Cannabis Flowers
Ayehab / Adobe Stock

One Florida lawmaker says the legislature could get a do-over on implementing the state’s 2016 medical marijuana amendment after the First Discrict Court of Appeal handed down an opinion Tuesday calling the current setup unconstitutional.

The Leon County Commission has approved a new septic tank policy. The plan will provide grants to property owners who upgrade their septic tanks as part of an effort to address water quality issues in the Wakulla Springs Basin. 

Judge T Kent Wetherell
1st District Court of Appeals

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Kent Wetherell to serve as judge in the Northern District of Florida. The moved restores the district to a full bench.

The Florida Department of State launched a new website Monday where people must register before they can start collecting signatures to get proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Bob Rackleff and others prior to going door to door registering people to vote.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Thousands of felons throughout the state are now eligible to vote, thanks to Amendment 4 and Governor Ron DeSantis signing the implementing bill into law. However, to do so they will have to register first, and organizations and advocates have been fanning out across Florida to sign up these newly eligible voters. Joining those efforts is former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Florida’s Historic Capitol lawn was the backdrop for a protest Tuesday calling for the closure of migrant detention centers.

Blue and red "I voted" stickers scattered on a white back ground
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The All Voters Vote citizens' initiative lets anyone who’s registered cast a ballot in the primary. 

The proposal goes a step further than an open primary by allowing the top two vote getters, regardless of party, to advance.

Gavel being struck with money in between.
Pakhnyushchyy / Adobe Stock

Voting Rights groups are challenging a new Florida law, saying it quote “violates the prohibition against poll taxes”. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill late Friday, it requires felons to pay court fines and fees before registering to vote. The American Civil Liberties Union, Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, and NAACP are all part of the lawsuit.

WFSU’s Blaise Gainey speaks with Julie Ebenstein, the lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union who submitted the lawsuit.

Tom Flanigan

On Friday, June 28, Governor DeSantis signed into law a bill placing financial restrictions on the restoration of felon voting rights, made possible by last November's passage of Amendment Four.  The League of Women Voters and several other groups are already taking the new enabling  law to court.

Felons registering to vote.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill implementing 2018's Amendment 4. When voters passed the amendment it was expected that nearly 1.5 million felons would be allowed to vote. But the Republican-dominated legislature passed an implementation bill that many say changes the intent.

First person perspective of a driver who is texting. The driver holds a phone with a text message displayed on the screen. It reads, "Are you okay?" and "Can you pick up cough drops? I ate my last one." The driver's thumb is poised to start typing.
Roman Pohorecki / Pexels

Beginning July 1, Florida drivers can be pulled over for texting while driving. The act becomes a primary offense, meaning police officers can pull someone over just for texting.

A young woman practices on a dummy.
Tallahassee Community College

Florida’s statewide push for workforce education and training is growing, and this week the Governor signed a bill expanding apprenticeships. Meanwhile, in the Capital City, similar efforts are happening at the local level.

Fighting human trafficking is one of the top issues for U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh.
Howard Revis via Flickr / flickr.com

Florida will soon strike up a so-called "John’s Registry" for people convicted of soliciting prostitution. It’s part of an effort to combat human and sex trafficking. The database has been endorsed by law enforcement who see it as a way to shame people who pay for sex, but some victim advocates worry it could sweep up people who’ve been trafficked themselves.

A hallway of jail cells
viperagp / Adobe Stock

Florida lawmakers this year passed a criminal justice reform package. But advocates and researchers doubt it will have a real impact on the state’s justice system. 

Home with Solar Panels on the roof.
Smileus / Adobe Stock

 

More Floridians are taking advantage of renewable energy than ever before. According to reports filed with the Public Service Commission, customer-owned renewable systems increased by 54% in 2018. The total renewable system interconnections total close to 38,000, in 2008 there were only 577.

Fried speaks at podium
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Florida is edging closer to a legal hemp industry. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) wrapped its final rulemaking workshop Monday.

Flying drone in action
tostphoto / Adobe Stock

Triumph Gulf Coast is setting aside funds it hopes will help students soar thanks to a drone training program the board recently approved.

Two e-scooters are standing up on the sidewalk. A winding road with trees can be seen behind them.
Robbie Gaffney / WFSU-FM

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed off on granting e-scooter riders the same rights as bicyclists. Now, cities across Florida are implementing e-scooter programs.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

Suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel recently appeared before the Senate special master in his appeal hearing. Israel pointed to Governor Ron DeSantis’ allegations of incompetence on the job as political.

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

Gov. Ron DeSantis on  Friday signed the state’s $90.9 billion budget. 

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