Gina Jordan

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

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Politics
3:24 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Republicans Split Over Cheaper Tuition For Undocumented Students

Sen. Jack Latvala's tuition bill includes price breaks for families that pay taxes in Florida, whether they're documented or not.
Credit Greenspoon Marder/flickr

Florida's undocumented residents may soon have access to cheaper college tuition. The proposal is part of a sweeping bill aimed at reducing the cost of higher education.

Undocumented students could pay in-state tuition if they meet certain eligibility requirements. They’ve been paying the out-of-state rate, which is three times more expensive.

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Politics
9:08 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Democrat: Republicans Waging Class Warfare On Average Floridians

Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, says Republicans have spent years giving away tax breaks and other perks to the wealthy and the large corporations at the expense of working families.
Credit myfloridahouse.gov

Florida’s Republican leaders announced their policy goals last month for the upcoming legislative session.

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The Sunshine Economy
10:30 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

Big Sugar's Influence Stretches From South Florida To Washington

Sugar companies get money from taxpayers through the U.S. Farm Bill. In turn, those companies pay a privilege tax to help clean up the environmental damage caused by sugar farming.
Credit africa/freedigitalphotos.net

Sugar is one of the biggest special interests in Tallahassee. More sugar comes from Florida than anywhere else in the country. 

It’s grown in a 700,000-acre region between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Actual farming acreage, which includes other crops, is 470,000 because of conservation areas and other projects.) 

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StateImpact Florida
10:59 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Three Education Questions For Senate President Don Gaetz

Senate President Don Gaetz doesn't want in-state tuition for undocumented students. He does like the idea of university performance funding.
Credit Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

Florida’s move toward Common Core standards in schools is sure to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.

Lawmakers will also consider allowing undocumented college students to pay cheaper, in-state tuition. Plus, state universities that improve their graduation rates may be able to boost their funding.

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Parasailing
12:45 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Victims Of Parasailing Accidents Beg Lawmakers For Stronger Regulations

Shannon Kraus cries during a news conference at the Capitol Thursday. Her teenage daughters were in a parasailing accident in 2007 in Pompano Beach. Amber White was killed and Crystal White suffered permanent injuries.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

A series of deaths and injuries may lead to stronger oversight of Florida’s parasailing industry. Victims and their families are lobbying lawmakers in Tallahassee for help.

Crystal White was 17-years-old when she and her younger sister went parasailing in Pompano Beach in 2007. White says she remembers the boat operator talking about bad weather approaching, but he sent them up anyway. Then, the wind picked up.

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Politics
8:28 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Medical Marijuana, Speed Limits And Social Media Privacy On Senator's Agenda

Credit Eric Broder Van Dyke/flickr

  Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, is sponsoring bills to help tackle violations of the Do Not Call list and give employees and job applicants more social media privacy.

Clemens also wants higher speed limits – he admits he’s a speeder – and he still likes red-light cameras, even though he’s been ticketed by one.

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News
8:05 am
Mon February 10, 2014

Pilot Program Would Supply Clean Needles For Drug Users In Miami Dade

Hansel Tookes is a fourth-year med student at the University of Miami who went to Tallahassee to testify in favor of the needle-exchange bill. The bill has been renamed the Miami-Dade Infectious Disease Elimination Act (IDEA).
Credit Gina Jordan / WLRN

Miami-Dade County has another chance at getting a program that would enable drug users to safely exchange their dirty syringes.

A bill to create a five-year pilot program has been filed again in Tallahassee, and a University of Miami medical student is behind the push.

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Politics
7:57 am
Mon February 3, 2014

Florida Gubernatorial Candidates Take Digs At Competitors

Polls show Gov. Rick Scott trailing Democratic challenger and former Gov. Charlie Crist in a head to head race.
Credit Florida Governor's Office

Gloves are off in the race for Florida governor. The three top candidates for the office met with reporters in Tallahassee Wednesday, and all took verbal shots at their competitors.

Gov. Rick Scott was the first speaker at the annual meeting hosted by the Associated Press. He announced his fourth budget recommendation as governor. It’ll be his last unless he is re-elected.

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News
6:03 pm
Wed January 22, 2014

Beer Tastings At The Grocery Store? The Florida Senate Might Make It So

Half-gallon beer growlers are legal in 47 states. Florida isn't one of them. That could change during the legislative session that begins in March.
Credit stuartwainstock/flickr

How about getting a taste of beer as you fill your grocery cart? A bill moving through the Florida Senate would enable stores like Publix and Costco to offer their customers samples of beer.

Senator Nancy Detert, R-Venice, says it’s only fair.

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Politics
6:24 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Florida Senate President Considers Proposal To Legalize Marijuana Strain

A strain of marijuana that doesn't get users high has been found to help children who suffer from chronic seizures. The strain, known as Charlotte's Web, is currently available only in Colorado. Lawmakers are considering a proposal to make the strain legal in Florida.
Credit tylerericsson1/flickr

Desperate pleas from parents of sick kids got the attention of legislative leaders in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week.  

“We just need solutions quickly. We don’t have time. Time is not on our side,” said Seth Hyman from Weston. “Rebecca unfortunately could have a seizure today back in our hotel and die.”

“All the medications he’s on – it’s not a guarantee. He’s actually suicidal right now,” said Renee Petro from Uthia, talking about her son Branden. “He wants to kill himself. He’s 12.”

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Politics
8:08 am
Wed January 15, 2014

More Tanning Salons Than McDonald's: Why The Tanning Bed Bill Is Back

Credit Newtown graffiti / Flickr CC

  

The World Health Organization lists tanning beds among the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation.

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Education
1:03 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Another School Choice In Florida: Single-Sex Classrooms

These boys are part of the All Male E.A.G.L.E. Academy at Bond Elementary School in Tallahassee. The acronym stands for Extraordinary Ambitious Gentlemen Leading in Excellence.
Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

A handful of public schools in Florida have either all-girls or all-boys classrooms. More could be coming.

Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, is behind a bill that would have one school in districts throughout the state offer only single-sex classes. The proposed legislation would create a pilot project in designated districts for two years.

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Jobs
11:20 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

South Florida Democrats Join National Effort For A $10 Minimum Wage

Florida's $7.93 minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. Efforts are underway around the country to bolster the minimum to more than $10 an hour.
Credit pbarcas/flickr

Florida’s minimum wage rose by 14 cents on Jan. 1, to $7.93 per hour. But two South Florida lawmakers say that doesn't go far enough.

They’ve filed bills to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The wage increase would also apply to workers who earn tips, like restaurant servers currently making $4.91 per hour.

Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Opa-Locka, say they’re trying to get more people out of poverty.

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News
5:44 pm
Wed January 8, 2014

Senator Says Florida's Troubled Unemployment System May Violate Federal Law

Florida's new unemployment benefits system, CONNECT, was supposed to provide convenience and better service. Instead, many applicants are going weeks, even months, without unemployment checks.
Credit floridajobs.org

The trouble with Florida’s revamped unemployment website is getting more attention in Washington. U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is again calling for a federal investigation.

More than 200,000 jobless Floridians use the website to file for weekly benefits worth up to $275.

The new website debuted in mid-October after the state spent four years and $63 million upgrading equipment.

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Politics
2:41 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Ethics Commission Refuses To Close Complaints Against Miami Lawmaker

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, addresses the House of Representatives on May 2, 2013.
Credit Myfloridahouse.gov/MarkFoley

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, hasn’t put his issues with the Florida Commission on Ethics behind him.

Fresen is refusing to pay a $1,500 fine related to his work as a legislative aide in 2003. He was fined because he didn’t file a required financial form.

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