Rick Stone has been a journalist in Florida for most of his career. He's worked in newspapers and television but believes that nothing works as well as public radio. He and his wife, Mary Jane Stone, live in Broward County.
TALLAHASSEE -- If your plan is to manufacture paella on an industrial, thousand-meals-a-batch scale, first thing you need is a truck. And a trailer, with a heat source. A giant cooking pan, maybe a dozen feet across. And, of course, a ton of food.
Literally a ton.
"It's maybe two thousand pounds of stuff," said Chef Bijan, the official paella chef of Miami-Dade Days at the state capitol. "Chicken, crab, shrimp, saffron, peppers."
Florida's sales tax is a huge competitive downside for local retailers who sell the same products as their Internet competitors.
Because online sellers rarely collect the sales tax, it leaves the brick-and-mortar shops at a roughly 7-percent price disadvantage. And that's why business and retail lobbies have been demanding sales tax collection for online sales for years.
The issue arose during the WLRN-Miami Herald Session 2013 Town Hall last month, where we heard from Fort Lauderdale bookseller Donna Mergenhagen.
TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida House and Senate are taking ethics and elections seriously this year. Bills to widen voting opportunities by restoring pre-2011 early voting days and hours are making their way through both chambers.
But there's a bill in the House that would originally have increased campaign contribution limits from their current $500 to $10,000.
Jennifer Carroll's days as lieutenant governor and presumed running mate for Gov. Rick Scott's reelection campaign may already have been numbered when she resigned this week because of her connection to an Internet gambling scandal.
Meanwhile, the investigation of a purported charity called Allied Veterans of the World promises to overshadow the political shakeup in Tallahassee and lead to a big change in Florida's gambling landscape.
Burdened with the expense of medical care for more than a million uninsured Floridians, the Florida Hospital Association isn't ready to accept that Medicaid won't be expanded in Florida under Obamacare.
Scarcely a day after a Florida Senate Select Committee voted down the Medicaid plan, the association had mobilized healthcare providers and patients under the banner "The Florida Remedy" to make their case public.
The election results and new leadership in the Florida legislature have made life a little easier for the state's elected Democrats.
Not that that there's been a substantial change in how the state's laws are made. The elections may have stripped House and Senate Republicans of their super-majorities, but Democrats remain profoundly outvoted and relatively powerless.
Florida has always been a state to watch, if only as a guilty pleasure or perhaps in self-defense. But some major political stars are aligning and the pundits are beginning to agree, Florida will really be a State To Watch from now at least through the 2016 election.
The personalities-of-the moment are here. The game-changing demographics are here. And the Florida stage is set for epic -- and deeply symbolic -- political confrontations.
Former state Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink now has what she desperately needed in 2012 when she ran for governor against Rick Scott and lost: name recognition.
And that may be why a handful of the state's top Democrats are waiting to see what Sink will do in 2014 before they decide to become candidates for governor. Sink didn't run an impressive campaign but she didn't lose by much and the thinking is that a little more name recognition might have made the difference.
How did Florida U. S. Sen. Marco Rubio seize the leadership of the Republican Party from Paul Ryan, the Minnesota congressman who ran for vice-president with Mitt Romney?
By leading the trend to the party's nose-holding surrender on the immigration issue, argues New York Magazine. Writer Jonathan Chait says Rubio has tapped into a new GOP school of thought, which is that Republicans have no other problems except for immigration.
A Florida Senate committee's smiling approval of the Miami Dolphin's request for stadium renovation money may have set off a flurry of similar campaigns by sports teams and enterprises around the state.
The Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved sales tax breaks that would help the Dolphins finance a $400-million renovation of Sun Life Stadium. The team is still hoping for a penny increase in the hotel bed tax for the rest of the public share of the bill, which it says will be less than half of the total cost.
Disabled by bungled repair work more tan three years ago, Duke Energy's Crystal River nuclear power plant will not be reactivated, company officials have concluded.
The plant in Citrus County on Florida's west coast will become he first in the Southeastern U. S. to close.
Four coal-fired generators will remain in place at the Crystal River site and the company is considering whether to build a new natural gas generator to replace the energy that the 900-megawatt CR3 nuke has produced since it opened in 1977.
In Tallahassee, a series of proposals to repair the state election system is finding broad support in the Legislature that many say broke the voting process two years ago.
A Senate bill instituting one of the reforms proposed by Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already been filed and there are clear signals from a House elections subcommittee that it will prepare a bill to launch the rest of them.
Researchers at the Texas Transportation Institute have quantified what most South Florida drivers already know deep in their guts: they are wasting more time, money and gasoline than ever sitting in worsening traffic.
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International will increase its capacity for yearly takeoffs and landings by more than 50 percent once its new runway goes live 20 months from now.
But it's going to be tricky in the meantime. Building the new runway will require closing one of the airport's two existing runways and that will expose flights and travelers to the risk of unforeseen -- and possibly lengthy -- delays.
Will stopping Mexican tomatoes at the border raise tomato prices prohibitively for American consumers?
An importers group predicted recently that if the 1996 tomato agreement with Mexico is terminated, tomatoes could rise to $5 a pound in American supermarkets. Florida growers now say that's a scare tactic by interest groups who favor Mexican imports. "Under no circumstances will this be true," said Edward Beckman, president of Certified Greenhouse Farmers.
Black residents of Broward County are much more likely than whites or Hispanics to experience infant mortality, obesity or HIV/AIDS, according to an alarming new report from the Urban League, and nobody should try to blame the results on poor lifestyle choices .
According to the Urban League's Danielle Doss-Brown, it's unarguably the result of poverty and lack of access to insurance and health care. Complicating it is a shortage of sources of healthy food in many black communities.
HEADED FOR THE BLACK LIST: The Latin American School of Medicine is the world's largest medical school. Republicans in the Florida Legislature want to make sure that American graduates of the Cuban school cannot get Florida medical licenses.
Florida voters may be asked to raise the salary of a rookie teacher by $10,000 starting two years from now. If they approve, the pay increase would be part of a constitutional amendment that ties Florida teacher pay scales at all career levels to national averages.
The average Florida teacher salary now is $46,000, about $10,000 less than the national average.
OK, show of hands: How many of you Miamians have ever heard of Argentine tech guru and entrepreneur Martín Varsavsky and his based-in-Spain "public wi-fi" company, Fon?
Well, he has certainly heard of you. So impressed is he with Miami -- and so dismayed by the South Florida brain drain he attributes to the lack of a significant tech sector in our economy -- that he's planning to launch his North American operations here.