State News

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. 

Arrow pointing up on a graph
naypong / Adobe Stock

Florida’s economy is currently 17th largest in the world. Florida Chamber of Commerce CEO Mark Wilson wants it to be in the top 10.

Marine Oil Snow Is Falling In The Gulf Of Mexico

Jun 19, 2019
An Ceann Corr via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/acreisner/

Oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill continues  sinking to the Gulf of Mexico’s sea floor. Now a researcher from the University of Delaware is shedding light on a phenomenon he’s calling Marine Oil Snow.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

Suspended Broward County sheriff Scott Israel’s appeal hearing is expected to be a three-day affair. Tuesday marked day one, and saw Israel take the stand.

A field of hemp plants
jessicahyde / Adobe Stock

The Florida Agriculture Department has released its first draft of proposed rules for a state hemp program. This comes ahead of hemp rulemaking workshops beginning later this week.

Governor Ron DeSantis speaking at a podium in his Press Office, Department of State Secretary Laurel Lee, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley, and Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux in attendance.
Blaise Gainey / WFSU-FM

Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis essentially reversed his predecessors’ actions by giving back $2.3 million  to elections supervisors to spend on cyber security. The money was left over from a $19 million grant the federal government gave the state prior to the 2018 primary election.

A yellow anaconda is held with two hands close to a woman's chest. Its head rests on the woman's finger.
Chris Tefme / Adobe Stock

Reptile owners and vendors affected by an addition to Florida’s prohibited species list are filing a petition to challenge the decision.

Steve Cannon / AP Photo

Governor Ron DeSantis today signed off on a bill banning so-called “sanctuary cities” in Florida.  The effort sparked controversy during this legislative session, but its backers say it’s all about following the rule of law.

FAU's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute via twitter

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration is declaring an unusual mortality event for bottlenose dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico, ranging from Franklin County, Florida to Louisiana. 

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Last week marked the anniversary of D-Day, when American troops stormed the beaches at Normandy during World War II. The organization Honor Flight flies veterans to Washington, D.C. at no cost to them to visit war memorials. With each passing year there are fewer WWII vets to participate.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Three years after the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub that left 49 dead, dozens gathered on the steps of Florida’s Historic Capitol to remember the victims. A coalition of LGBTQ rights activists say they will “honor them with action.”

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