Gina Jordan

Tallahassee reporter

Ways to Connect

George Venios/flickr

Men and women who live together as couples outside of marriage are breaking the law in Florida.

The state statute was enacted in 1868, and an effort is back in Tallahassee to repeal it.

A bill that would end the prohibition against men and women living together "lewdly and lasciviously" passed a House panel Wednesday.

Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Palatka, voted against the bill after asking the sponsor, "Why are you married?”

Derrick Lau/flickr

State and federal investigators are looking into infant deaths at St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. The babies died following heart surgery.

Earl Leatherberry/flickr

Florida voters passed Amendment 1 last November, and funding to carry out the amendment was considered a priority when lawmakers went into the regular session in March. The amendment is also known as the Water and Land Conservation Initiative.

For the next 20 years, the amendment requires that one–third of the revenue from a real estate tax known as documentary stamps goes toward environmental preservation.

Wikimedia / Illustration by Maria Murriel

The regular session of the Florida Legislature came to an abrupt end in late April as the House disagreed with the Senate over Medicaid expansion. The Senate wants to use federal dollars for expansion, while the House and Gov. Rick Scott want no expansion.

Lawmakers returned to Tallahassee last week for a special session to finish work on their one required duty: creating a state budget that goes into effect July 1.

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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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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. 

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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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.

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.

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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