Gina Jordan

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

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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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News
2:30 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Florida Senate Panel Wants To Stop 'Rehoming' Of Children

The term "rehoming" used to refer to pet adoption. Now it has a darker meaning.
Credit littlebluecottage/flickr

A Florida Senate committee has approved a bill cracking down on parents who illegally put their children up for adoption.

The practice often involves children who were adopted from other countries.

It's called "rehoming," and it puts kids into new families -- for free. The kids are typically offered for adoption on the Internet by parents who just don’t want them anymore.

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Holidays
6:48 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Florida Capitol's Festivus Pole Gets International Attention

Chaz Stevens and his Festivus beer can pole meet with reporters in the Capitol.
Credit Margie Menzel/News Service of Florida

A 6-foot pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans is making news around the world as it stands in Florida’s Capitol building.

Maker Chaz Stevens and his beer-can pole have been featured on the Colbert Report, the Huffington Post, and the major networks.

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News
12:59 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Florida Drivers Can Soon Use Smartphones To Show Proof Of Insurance

Proof of auto insurance will soon be as close as your smart phone.
Credit samsungtomorrow/flickr

Florida drivers are required to carry proof of insurance.

Those who are pulled over in Miami-Dade County and can’t show proof of coverage will get a $129 ticket. (It drops to $10 if proof is provided with 30 days that the driver had insurance at the time of the citation.)

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Unemployment
7:29 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Did Gov. Rick Scott Keep His 700,000-Jobs Promise?

Gov. Rick Scott helped Hertz break ground last month on the rental car company’s new corporate headquarters. Hertz is relocating to Estero, FL from New Jersey, creating an anticipated 700 jobs in the state.
Credit Florida Governor's Office

Florida’s economy is improving, and soon voters will have to decide whether Gov. Rick Scott deserves enough of the credit to be reelected next year.

Scott made jobs his top priority. He said his administration would make efforts leading to 700,000 new jobs over seven years – a number above the economic growth forecast by state economists.

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News
4:49 pm
Tue December 3, 2013

More Lawyers Turning To Non-Traditional Legal Work

More law school grads are working in fields that don't resemble courtroom lawyers. A third of them hold jobs that don't require passage of the bar exam.
Credit steve_sris/flickr

Tallahassee boasts one of the highest concentrations of lawyers in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Many of those lawyers are in jobs that have nothing to do with being in a courtroom.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says more students are graduating from law school each year than there are jobs available.

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Health Care
7:50 am
Tue October 22, 2013

How Much Would It Cost To Legalize Medical Marijuana In Florida?

Credit Vlado / Flickr CC

The state is starting the process of figuring out how much it would cost to legalize medical marijuana. Private groups are gathering petition signatures to put a proposed constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot.

All citizen initiatives that propose changes to the Constitution must undergo a financial review.

Economists for the Florida Legislature will spend the next few weeks running the numbers.

Vesselka McAlarney with the Office of Demographic and Economic Research looked at data from other states that have legalized the drug. 

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Politics
2:55 pm
Wed September 4, 2013

After The Zimmerman Verdict: How Juries Are Chosen In Florida

Should the jury in the George Zimmerman trial have been more diverse? Zimmerman (in the photo on the right) shot Trayvon Martin (left) in Sanford, Fla. but was acquitted for the killing.

The makeup of the George Zimmerman jury – six women, five of them white – got the attention of Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami when the jury acquitted Zimmerman in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin of Sanford.

Margolis has filed a bill in Tallahassee that would require a 12-member jury for any felony case that might bring life in prison. (Twelve jurors are already required for death penalty cases.)

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Politics
12:32 pm
Thu August 1, 2013

Florida Education Commissioner Tony Bennett Resigns

Tony Bennett

Update 2:24 p.m.: Florida is looking for a new education commissioner. Tony Bennett resigned today – effective immediately – after just six months on the job.

Allegations surfaced this week that Bennett changed the school grading system in Indiana to benefit a campaign contributor while he served as that state's elected superintendent.

Bennett said the allegations were unfounded, but he decided to step down because they had become a distraction.

Senate Education Committee Chairman John Legg says Bennett did the right thing.

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Common Core
12:46 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Union Worried Testing Could Cause Public To Turn On Common Standards

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 10:19 am

About 10,000 educators from around the country are in Atlanta this week for the National Education Association’s annual meeting.

The group will debate issues from school safety to immigration reform as the NEA develops its legislative priorities for the coming year.

Florida Education Association President Andy Ford says Common Core State Standards and assessments will be heavily discussed.

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Common Core
2:15 pm
Tue June 25, 2013

How Common Standards, New Lessons Could 'Weed Out' Some Teachers

Originally published on Tue June 25, 2013 7:45 am

Before she retires, Shara Holt is getting teachers around the state ready to use Common Core standards. Holt is a literacy coach in St. Johns County who’s spent 41 years as an educator.

Florida is one of 45 states transitioning to Common Core State Standards right now.

It’s a new way of teaching that focuses heavily on fewer subjects, sets benchmarks for students at each grade level, and forces students to explain their answers.

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Common Core
12:52 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

How Florida Administrators Are Preparing For Common Core

Originally published on Thu June 20, 2013 10:30 am

Florida schools have one more academic year to fully get ready for Common Core State Standards.

This new way of teaching is designed to better prepare students for college and a career.

Thousands of teachers are getting help from the Florida Department of Education at training sessions this summer – studying a different way to guide student learning.

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Teaching
11:32 am
Tue June 18, 2013

Despite Union Lawsuit, Governor Signs 'Partial Fix' For Teacher Evaluations

Originally published on Mon June 17, 2013 12:57 pm

Florida teachers will no longer be evaluated – and have their pay based on – the performance of students they don’t teach.

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill passed by the Florida Legislature that should allay some of their concerns.

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Florida Budget
3:30 pm
Thu May 23, 2013

Florida's Education Budget By The Numbers

Originally published on Tue May 21, 2013 10:02 am

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a budget that’s very different than the one he’s been paying for since he authorized massive education cuts two years ago.

Back then, pundits speculated Scott may have sealed his fate as a one term governor when he proposed a few billion dollars worth of cuts to education. Scott, for his part, seemed surprised by the widespread backlash.

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