Gina Jordan

Tallahassee reporter

Ways to Connect

Florida Fish and Wildlife/flickr

Florida’s efforts to bring more visitors to the state are getting a boost from National Geographic. The website has launched a new hub dedicated to the Florida parks system . The hub is a compilation of pictures and information designed to lure visitors to the great outdoors. The launch is tied to an Instagram photo contest that runs through mid-November. “We realized that we had a great story to tell,” says Paul Phipps, chief marketing officer for Visit Florida, the state’s tourism...

Fantasy Springs/flickr

The best selling rap artist once referred to as Mr. 305 is now a paid ambassador for Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing corporation. Rapper Pitbull is working on a music video showcasing the state. Pitbull’s real name is Armando Christian Pérez. He’s a Miami native; his parents emigrated from Cuba. Now he calls himself Mr. Worldwide – since he’s become an international star. Pitbull’s m ore than 100 million social media followers make him an attractive partner for Visit Florida. His...

Charles Trainor, Jr./The Miami Herald

Miami Dolphins coach Joe Philbin was fired Monday after the team lost three of its first four games. This was Philbin's fourth season as head coach. Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum announced tight ends coach Dan Campbell as Philbin’s temporary replacement. “When we made the decision to make Dan Campbell our interim head coach, it was the thinking that again, this season is four games old, and we can still accomplish all of our goals this year – not a three-year rebuild, but...

susanlee828/flickr

Animal rights activists who object to the treatment of some of the animals kept at the Miami Seaquarium are getting a little more room to air their concerns. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has settled a lawsuit with Miami-Dade police over how much space protesters can occupy outside the venue. The agreement gets rid of the "red zones" imposed by police on public sidewalks outside the attraction. Protesters were banned from those areas. The settlement means critics of the...

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?” “Because we think it’s the right thing to do,” replied Rep. Michelle...

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. CNN was the first media outlet to call attention to the deaths. By CNN's count, nine infants have died in the nearly four years since the hospital began its pediatric cardiovascular program. The network reported that the death rate for infant cardiac surgery there is three times higher than the national average. St. Mary's disputes those...

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. The Florida Legislature determines exactly how the money is spent, and Amendment 1...

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 . Things seemed to be going smoothly, until this happened: “This is a...

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. The invention comes as most states have passed laws against texting and driving , which is a secondary offense in Florida . That means a driver must be pulled over for some other reason, like running a stop sign. Drivers can’t be pulled over simply because an officer sees them typing on their phone. Rep. Irving...

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. The network is led by president and CEO...

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. “One of the opportunities that we knew could be before us is if our language was...

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 . Secretary of State Ken Detzner, who is in charge of elections, opposes the bill. He says his agency will likely be dealing with the...

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. The agreement filed with the state Supreme Court is harsher than the public reprimand and letter of apology approved by the Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC). The high court wanted steeper penalties. Schwartz is accused of making an obscene comment and threatening to sue a...

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. The Senate passed its version of the bill and sent it to the House. The House, on what turned out to be its final day in session, made changes to the Senate bill....

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. Florida House and Senate leaders were talking with tribal lawyers about a renewal. Then, the House suddenly adjourned three days before the official end of the legislative session because of a budget stalemate . The current agreement with the tribe covers five Indian casinos and gives the state at...

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