Rick Stone

Reporter,

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.

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Transportation
10:50 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Florida's New Texting While Driving Ban Takes Effect Oct. 1

Experts say that texting while driving makes you 23 times more likely to get into an accident.
Credit IntelFreePress/Flickr

It's official. No more texting and driving in the state of Florida.

Gov. Rick Scott was in South Florida on Tuesday to sign SB 52, legislation championed by Sen. Nancy Detert (R-Venice) for the last four years. 

Under the new law, Florida will join a large majority of states in prohibiting texting while driving. As a secondary offense, however, drivers must be stopped for a separate alleged traffic violation before being ticketed for texting while driving. 

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Libraries
7:52 am
Wed September 11, 2013

How Miami-Dade Commission Plans To Fund Libraries Without Raising Taxes

Librarians protested against closures and layoffs at a series of budget town hall meetings leading up the commission vote.
Credit Arianna Prothero/WLRN

After an 8 1/2-hour public hearing, Miami-Dade County commissioners found a way to keep its library system essentially intact early Wednesday morning while also not raising taxes.

In July, commissioners voted to hold the line on taxes, but that meant laying off firefighters, abandoning plans for a no-kill animal shelter and cutting hours, services and jobs from the library system. In the weeks that followed, all three became hot issues, but it was the libraries that dominated Tuesday night's public hearing. Librarian Jennifer Lopez said patrons would be devastated.

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Zimmerman Trial
7:12 am
Mon July 22, 2013

Bracing For A Boycott: How Scott's Defense Of 'Stand Your Ground' Could Hurt Florida

DISNEY, CITRUS ON THE LINE Activists around the country say Florida should be punished with a boycott for its Stand Your Ground law.
Credit Facebook

The calls to boycott Florida grew louder and more widespread on Friday after Gov. Rick Scott reiterated his support for the broad self-defense law that was key to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin case.

Scott told demonstrators occupying the state capitol on Thursday that he will not submit the Stand Your Ground law to a special legislative session for revisions despite demands by activists, elected leaders and at least one prosecutor earlier in the day.

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Zimmerman Trial
4:41 pm
Fri July 12, 2013

Trayvon Martin's Uncle Says Media Should Have Challenged Pretrial Misinformation

RONALD FULTON: Trayvon Martin's uncle says his nephew was kind-hearted and non aggressive...and the media should have questioned the negative stories.
Credit Rick Stone

Ever since a car crash that left him a quadriplegic 12 years ago, 50-year-old Ronald Fulton has been making the best of bad situations.

His experience as a patient led him to found a healthcare advocacy organization called You Are Knot Alone. Life in a wheelchair turned him into a campaigner for disability rights who also advises Miami-Dade County commissioners. But for one thing in his life, there is no upside: the loss of his nephew, Trayvon Martin.

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Civil Rights
7:35 am
Thu June 27, 2013

How The U.S. Supreme Court's Decision Gave Legal Gay Marriage What It Needed: Validity

THE CAUSE THEY LOST: In 2008, these protesters demonstrated in Fort Lauderdale against a gay marriage ban that was on the ballot. Sixty-two percent of the voters approved it.
Credit Danny Hammontree/Flickr

The benefits will be substantial for those who get them, but the beneficiaries of the U. S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Federal Defense of Marriage Act are just a small subset of  Florida's LGBT population.

They are the couples with marriage licenses from states where same-sex marriage is legal. Until now, DOMA prevented them from receiving tax breaks, Social Security, pension considerations and myriad other benefits that the federal government extends to married couples.

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Environment
6:00 pm
Fri June 21, 2013

What To Expect During This Weekend's Supermoon, King Tide

SUPERMOON Photographer John Spade got this shot of the last supermoon on May 5, 2012. It shines on an Atlantic Ocean pier north of Fort Lauderdale.
Credit John Spade/Flickr

The sun, the Earth and the moon will align this weekend to leave a supermoon shining on a king tide.

But it’s all a little less spectacular than it sounds. At least, now it is. A few years down the road -- if the climate change people are right -- the king tide may be something to dread. But, right now, it’s just an incremental enhancement of an ordinary event.

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Zimmerman Trial
6:30 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Miami-Dade Knows Riots Too Well; Plans For Zimmerman Verdict

EMOTION ON DISPLAY: The shooting of Trayvon Martin angered and mobilized multitudes in Florida and across the country. What will they do if his killer is acquitted?
Credit Elvert Barnes/Flickr

Miami-Dade County's Community Relations Board -- peacekeeper for the last half-century among the region's raucously contentious cultures and between the people and the police -- is getting ready for the aftermath of the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford.

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Labor
6:00 am
Tue June 4, 2013

Democrats, Labor Urge Gov. Scott To Veto Wage Bill

THEY WANT A VETO: Miami State Senator Dwight Bullard (in black) and State Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (center with red tie) call for a veto of House Bill 655 at a rally in downtown Miami.
Credit Rick Stone

Florida Democrats and advocates for working folk are turning up all the pressure they can to wring a veto out of Gov. Rick Scott sometime this month.

Their target? House Bill 655, passed during the 2013 legislative session to stop local governments from exceeding federal minimum wage and benefit guarantees.

If the governor signs the bill, counties such as Broward and Miami-Dade with special "living wage" ordinances already on their books, will have to abandon then.

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Exxxotica In Fort Lauderdale
1:46 pm
Sat June 1, 2013

Why Broward Is A Better Porn Market Than Miami Beach

WHAT YOU CAME FOR: A survey of Exxxotica's offerings: cars on the lert, sex on the right.
Credit Rick Stone

Exxxotica should be a familiar word to any South Floridian who regularly reads a "What to Do This Weekend" column.

It's a big sex-and-pornography convention that's been bringing fans annually to the Miami Beach Convention Center for the last seven years. But after a souring relationship with Miami Beach -- and a conclusion that Fort Lauderdale offers a much richer vein of porn consumers -- Exxxotica has moved to the Broward Convention Center where its inaugural weekend is underway.

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Florida Legislature
1:25 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

What Tallahassee Lawmakers Failed To Do in 2013

Credit Wikipedia

Editor's Note: Be sure to check out an interactive bill tracker of this year's session from the Miami Herald.

It's curtains for Session 2013 in Tallahassee but a feeling persists that not much was accomplished during the last two months.

Dolphins Stadium

Here in South Florida, the clock ran out on the Miami Dolphins' 2-minute drill for state help on renovations to Sun Life Stadium.

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Internet Sales Tax
11:31 am
Fri April 12, 2013

Why Revenue Neutrality Is Key To Enacting An Internet Sales Tax In Florida

BUT WAIT! You may have to pay Florida sales tax on this on-line item if a bill makes it through the legislature.
Credit Rick Stone

Online shoppers in Florida may have to budget an extra 6 or 7 percent for their Web purchases if State Sen. Nancy Detert's sales tax bill (SB 316) makes it through the Legislature this year.

But they may get some of that back. She's making the legislation politically palatable by ensuring most of the revenue is returned in the form of tax breaks.

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Florida Constitution
2:28 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Law Of The Land In Florida Is A Source Of Irritation For Asians

CONSTITUTIONAL RACISM: Asians have been angered and insulted for decades by the Alien Land Law in the Florida constitution. But they have still acquired land.

Here's a question we received from one of several hundred South Florida residents who attended a recent WLRN/Miami Herald Town Hall that was held just prior to the current legislative session.

This one comes from friend-of-WLRN Piyush Agrawal, a scholar, educator, businessman and philanthropist who lives in Weston:

"Why does Florida's constitution still allow the state to prohibit foreign citizens from owning real estate?"

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Florida Legislature
7:00 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

Nothing Says 'Miami' To Tallahassee Like A Vat Of Paella (And A Pitch For Funds)

A TON OF STUFF: The seafood, rice and chicken dish known as paella is dished up at the capitol to celebrate Miami-Dade County.
Credit Rick Stone

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."

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Medical Marijuana
10:00 am
Wed April 3, 2013

What's Snuffing Out Medical Weed In Florida?

SURVIVING ON POT: ALS patient Cathy Jordan has outlived her prognosis by decades, she believes, because of marijuana.
Credit Rick Stone

    

A medical marijuana bill sponsored by two South Florida Democrats has reached the end of the line in Tallahassee.

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Questions From Town Hall
10:00 am
Mon March 25, 2013

Bookseller Wonders, Why Doesn't Florida Get Sales Tax For Stuff You Buy On The Internet?

FIVE YEARS, FIVE TRIES: State. Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda says no-new-tax sentiment has blocked her attempts to pass an Internet sales tax bill.
Credit Rick Stone

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.

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