Gina Jordan

Tallahassee reporter

Gina Jordan reports from Tallahassee for WUSF and WLRN about how state policy affects your life.

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News
4:17 pm
Tue May 26, 2015

FAU Professor Creates Program To Block Texting While Driving

An effort to make texting while driving a primary offense in Florida was voted down by lawmakers in April.
Credit Paul Oka/flickr

What if our cell phones could automatically block our ability to text behind the wheel? A Florida Atlantic University professor says he’s developed software to make that happen.

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Environment
3:44 pm
Tue May 19, 2015

Evangelical Group Seeks Action On Climate Change In Florida

NASA says the Greenland and Antarctica ice sheets contain three-quarters of earth’s fresh water. A total melting of those ice sheets would raise the sea level by approximately 250 feet.
Credit KEENPRESS Photography/flickr

The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) has taken up the cause of climate change in Florida. The national group claims 600,000 members or supporters around the country with more than 100,000 of them in Florida. It's funded by donations and grants.

EEN is part of the Floridians for Solar Choice coalition, which is pushing a constitutional amendment that would allow Floridians to buy electricity directly from someone other than a utility company.

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News
8:11 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Two Letters, Two Views On Film Incentives For Florida Productions

The "Burn Notice" crew gets cameras in place during the 7th and final season of the hit TV show. This scene was shot along the Miami River.
Credit Miami-Dade Office of Film & Entertainment

Florida has been home to TV shows like "Burn Notice," "Dexter," and most recently the reality show "Gator Boys." With a special session looming, there’s a new push for the state to offer film incentives for production companies that bring their projects to Florida.

Lawmakers have to reconvene June 1 to finish the state budget, and that gave Palm Beach County Deputy Film Commissioner Michelle Hillery an idea.

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News
7:36 am
Tue May 12, 2015

Governor Has Short Time To Decide Fate Of Online Voter Registration System

Almost half of the states have online voter registration. Florida will join them if Gov. Rick Scott doesn't veto a bill by May 22 that would create an online system.
Credit Vox Efx/flickr

Governor Rick Scott has less than two weeks to decide whether to veto a bill creating online voter registration in Florida. 

The bill requires the Division of Elections to develop an online voter registration system. It has to be operational by October of 2017.

Supporters say the bill would make it easier for service members to register and update voting records.

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News
3:17 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

Miami-Dade Judge Accepts Punishment For Misconduct

If Judge Jacqueline Schwartz had not accepted the Florida Supreme Court's recommended punishment, her case would have gone back to the Judicial Qualifications Commission for review.
Credit Roberto Koltun, El Nuevo Herald

A Miami-Dade County judge accused of misconduct has accepted the punishment recommended by the Florida Supreme Court.

Judge Jacqueline Schwartz will pay a $10,000 fine and be out of work for a month without pay.

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Politics
9:51 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

Mental Health Overhaul Falls Victim To Early Session End

Miami-Dade County has the highest percentage of people with serious mental illnesses of any urban community in the United States, according to the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project.
Credit BearTruck 2009/flickr

A major overhaul of the state’s mental health system died when the Florida Legislature adjourned early.

Both chambers seemed ready to revamp the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services. The bill’s main focus was changing the way those services are administered in order to better coordinate care among agencies.

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Politics
4:16 pm
Mon May 4, 2015

Seminole Tribe Of Florida Pleas For Renewal Of Card Game Agreement

The Seminole Tribe of Florida wants the state to extend a portion of its gambling compact that expires this summer. It allows banked card games like baccarat exclusively at five Seminole casinos and generates more than a $100 million a year for the state.
Credit Mr Spil/flickr

The Seminole Tribe of Florida wants to keep its exclusive rights to blackjack and other banked card games, but the Legislature's abrupt adjournment this year might have dealt the tribe a bad hand. 

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Politics
9:43 am
Sat May 2, 2015

Florida Supreme Court Sides With House In Session Departure

April 28, 2015 - House Speaker Steve Crisafulli strikes the gavel, abruptly adjourning the House's legislative session three days early.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

The Florida Supreme Court has sided with the House of Representatives in a lawsuit filed by Florida Senate Democrats. The House left Tallahassee three days before the scheduled end of session because no agreement could be reached on a budget. 

Democrats in the Senate wanted the court to force House members back to Tallahassee for more session work, but the court denied the motion.

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Politics
5:02 pm
Mon April 27, 2015

Florida Legislature Approves Rule For Online Music And Movie Vendors

Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez says consumers who do business with websites that don’t provide contact information are at risk of having their identity and credit card information stolen.
Credit cvrcak1/flickr

A bill that targets Internet businesses that sell music or movies is going to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.

The "True Origin of Digital Goods Act" is billed as a consumer protection law. It requires website operators that sell music and videos to provide their real names and contact information.

Opponents say the state is trying to regulate the Internet. But Representative Erik Fresen (R-Miami) says the people selling the goods just have to identify themselves.

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Politics
12:37 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Former Environmental Secretary Sees Lawmaker 'Hostility' Toward Land Acquisition

Amendment 1 dedicates money for the state to buy protected land, restore Florida’s natural springs and clean up the Everglades.
Credit lolo35352000/flickr

Florida voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 1 last November. The citizen-led initiative is also known as the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment. It sets aside 33 percent of the revenue from documentary stamps - a real estate transaction fee - for the next 20 years to fund environmental protection.

The fees are worth $750 million next year. But the Florida Legislature is dragging its feet on setting rules to divvy up the funds.

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Politics
6:03 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

House Approves Experimental Drug Bill, Senate Ready For Floor Debate

Florida lawmakers are considering legislation that would enable terminally ill patients to use experimental drugs without government approval, even after a clinical trial has ended.
Credit flickr

The Florida House has passed a bill that creates the “Right to Try Act.”  The legislation gives dying patients a chance to try treatments that have undergone clinical trials but haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  

Patients who’ve been diagnosed as having less than a year to live would be eligible for the experimental treatments.

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Politics
2:10 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Florida House Passes Dave & Buster's Bill

Florida cracked down on Internet cafes two years ago because of illegal gambling.
Credit Nicholas_Luvaul/flickr

It’s been two years since Florida passed a law shutting down Internet cafes. Now, the Florida House has approved a bill clarifying that family-friendly amusement centers are perfectly legal, and the Senate version is also close to a vote.

The state was in a hurry to get rid of Internet cafes. The storefront shops were multiplying rapidly because many of them were getting away with illegal slot machine gambling.

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Health Care
4:57 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Nurse Practitioners Get Small Victory Toward Expanded Powers In Florida

A bill that passed a second Senate committee clarifies that nurse practitioners have the authority to order controlled substances and drug supplies in the hospital.
Credit jb19791128/flickr

Several bills working their way through the Florida Legislature would give nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe stronger medications and clarify other duties.

A second Senate committee has approved a bill that spells out the ability of highly trained nurses, known as practitioners, to order controlled substances in the hospital.

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Politics
7:00 am
Tue April 14, 2015

How Big Energy Wields Its Power Over Solar In Florida

Utility companies say if lots of people suddenly start using solar panels on their roofs, it would cause a huge disruption to the electric system.
Credit Solar Energy Tampa Florida/flickr

A citizen-led effort seeks to put a solar power-expanding initiative on Florida’s 2016 ballot. It would allow entities other than utility companies to sell the solar power they generate. At the same time, legislation proposed in Tallahassee would keep Florida as one of only five states that prevent anyone other than utilities from selling solar power.

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Education
12:01 am
Mon April 13, 2015

Required Financial Literacy Course Gets Second Chance in Florida Senate

The Florida Council on Economic Education says personal bankruptcies have increased 2200 percent in the last 40 years. That’s one reason why the council is leading a campaign called Require The Money Course.
Credit Trianons Oficial/flickr

Bills filed in the Florida House and Senate would require high school students to take a one-semester financial literacy course. But with just three weeks left in the legislative session, the proposals (House bill 29 and Senate bill 92)  haven’t been discussed by committees.

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