State News

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Lawmakers hope allowing state colleges impacted by Hurricane Michael to waive out of state tuition for 3 years will spur economic growth. 

DeSantis Rivkees DOH
Governor's Press Office

Gov. Ron DeSantis is tapping a doctor from the University of Florida to lead the state Department of Health. 

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

A measure moving through Florida’s House and Senate looks to add student immunization records to the Department of Health’s existing database. Amendments to the bill would let parents opt out of being listed on the registry, but critics are still skeptical on whether their privacy is protected.

Wakulla County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

Florida legislators are likely to pass a bill this session that would allow classroom teachers to carry guns while in school. But the Wakulla School Superintendent doesn’t support it.

Margie Menzel/WFSU

The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program represents abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the state's dependency courts. Minority children are disproportionately represented there. So the program is turning to Florida A&M University's School of Journalism and Graphic Communications for help in recruiting volunteers who are male, young, or members of minority groups.

Last year, Guardian ad Litem (GAL) represented more than 39,000 children with about 13,000 volunteers. The average volunteer tends to be older, female, and white.

Jessica Palombo / WFSU News

A committee bill in the Florida house looking to make sweeping changes to the state’s election laws has cleared a key committee stop. A number of them would modify the state’s vote-by-mail procedure, which sparked a partisan debate about voter access.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Legislators want to close a loophole they say bad actors are exploiting, ultimately leading to insurance rates increasing across the state. A bill heading to the House floor would address the issue. Lawmakers and the Chief Financial Officer of Florida are both focused on stopping the so-called bad actors.

AP Photo / John Raoux

Florida lawmakers approved a series of new laws last year cracking down on telemarketers. Those laws went into effect last summer, and addressed everything from unwanted voicemails to allowing phone companies to pre-emptively block robocalls. And yet, the bad calls are still happening.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

The Florida League of Mayors brought municipality heads to the Capitol Wednesday to oppose preemption bills this legislative session. The group of about 30 mayors also met with Attorney General Ashley Moody to discuss Florida’s mental health system.

Tallahassee police car
Urban Tallahassee

The Florida legislature is moving forward with a bill that aims to make first responders more efficient. 


Gabrielle Bolden / WFSU

Some college students are pushing Florida lawmakers to allow immigrant students access to state financial aid. 

Over the years DNA testing companies have been becoming more and more popular. FamilyTreeDNA, offers its customers a chance to discover their heritage, and possibly find living relatives after taking a DNA test. But without consent from each client the company shared genetic data with the FBI, and other DNA Testing companies have done similar things with pharmaceutical companies. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis thinks that’s wrong and that DNA should be treated like a medical record. He spoke WFSUs Blaise Gainey about the why it’s wrong and what the state is doing to stop it.

fla sanctuary cities
Ryan Dailey / WFSU

Florida Senate Democrats voted to reaffirm their opposition to a ban on sanctuary cities moving through the legislature. 

florida mass violence public records
Terry Renna / AP

A bill exempting recordings of mass shootings from public record cleared the Senate Wednesday. The House version is headed to that chamber’s floor.

Steve Cannon / AP Photo

The House Appropriations committee moved forward with their budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. But, Rep. Kionne McGhee (D-Cutler Bay) doesn’t think North Florida is being treated fairly when it comes to Hurricane Recovery.

Mitchell Haindfield / Flickr

In Florida a court can sentence a person under the age of 21 as a youthful offender. If a court does so that person can only receive a maximum sentence of six years. But the court process can take time. Public Defender Carey Haughwout says a bill moving through the legislature makes sure people aren't penalized by the delay.

In November, voters in Florida restored voting rights for felons who have completed their sentence and did not commit a murder or sexual offense should be restored. Now, four weeks into session lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that is meant to help execute what the voters asked for. Reggie Garcia, a clemency lawyer sat down to explain exactly what voters approved.

Mary Altaffer / AP Photo

A bill to replicate Miami’s needle exchange program statewide is inching closer to passing the Florida Legislature. It cleared its first committee hurdle Tuesday in the House.

Itay Kabalo on Unsplash / Unsplash

The senate’s Health Policy committee wants to align the sales age of tobacco products to that of alcohol, making it tougher for teens to get access to cigarettes and vaping devices. 

Chris Carlson / AP Photo

In November, voters agreed to change The Florida Constitution to ban fracking. A bill moving through the legislature sort of implements that.

Florida lawmakers say they want to crack down on human trafficking—specifically sex trafficking. And the legislature is considering increasing penalties on those who solicit for prostitution. Bills on the move would tackle the issue simultaneously.

Hermes Rivera / Unsplash

Advocates for film and TV are trying to revive Florida’s incentive programs. They say the state can’t afford to be without it.

The Florida Children & Youth Cabinet met to discuss children’s needs, from mental to dental health. Each agency in the Cabinet laid out their goals for the legislative session.


Chris O'Meara / AP Photo

Lawmakers in the Senate today passed a bill that would implement Amendment 4, which allows certain felons to vote. But as Blaise Gainey reports proponents of the amendment say it’s self-enacting and the bill passed today isn’t needed and may not meet constitutional muster.

Florida House of Representatives

Some Florida lawmakers say it’s too easy to change the state’s constitution. They want to raise the bar in an effort to keep what they say are policy changes out of document that lays the ground work for Florida’s government.

Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) is behind the bill (SB 0232.)

“This resolution provides that to amend the state constitution, this is recommending an increase in the percentage to a 2/3rds majority, or 66 2/3 percent,” Baxley says.

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