Steve Newborn

Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues, politics and transportation in the Tampa Bay area.

He’s been with WUSF since 2001, and has covered events such as President George W. Bush’s speech in Sarasota as the Sept. 11 attacks unfolded; the ongoing drama over whether the feeding tube should be removed from Terri Schiavo; the arrest and terrorism trial of USF professor Sami Al-Arian; how the BP Deepwater Horizon spill affected Florida; and he followed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition through the state - twice.

Before joining WUSF, he covered environmental and Polk County news for the Tampa Tribune and worked for NASA at the Kennedy Space Center during the early days of the space shuttle.

The claims are flying fast and furious around the proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. A version proposed by Republicans in the House of Representatives would replace it with the American Health Care Act.

A man from Orlando by the name of Desmond Meade is a convicted drug offender who later turned his life around, got a law degree, and is now leading the charge to automatically restore voting rights to felons. Now, all he needs is 700,000 signatures on a petition to put it on next year's ballot.

A lot of big promises came up before this year's legislative session in Tallahassee. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, said this way back in November:

"On your desks are the most aggressive, transformative rules in the history of the Florida legislature. These rules make us a national leader in transparency and accountability."

The Florida Legislature has voted to eliminate funding for Florida Forever, the state's primary land-conservation program.

The only part of Florida Forever that is receiving any money this coming year is $10 million dollars for ranchers to not develop their land.  Since 2001, the state has spent nearly $3 billion to buy more than 700,000 acres of land.

The Florida legislature is poised to pass a program that would encourage charter schools to set up near academically troubled traditional schools. The bill creates what Republicans call the “Schools of Hope” program, funneling hundreds of millions of dollars toward charter schools.

Back in 2012 and 2015, three environmentalists hiked, biked and kayaked a thousand miles across Florida - first, from the Everglades north to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia, then from the headwaters of the Everglades, through the Panhandle, to the Alabama state line. Their mission - to publicize the need to connect the state's dwindling natural lands before they're developed forever.

The swirl of controversy after the decision by Orange County State Attorney Aramis Ayala not to apply the death penalty in cases assigned to her has filtered down to a discussion of cases on Florida's death row.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Tuesday morning because of the number of wildfires burning around Florida.

Officials say wildfires in Florida have already burned 2 1/2 times more land in the first three months of 2017 than during the same period last year. There are more than 100 active wildfires across more than 20,000 acres.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the state hasn't seen this active of a wildfire season since 2011.

TAMPA BAY TIMES

There are no national or state statistics that track police shootings. But a Tampa Bay Times investigation has collected records from Florida's four hundred law enforcement agencies... counting every time someone was shot or killed by an officer between 2009 and 2014.

One of their main findings: 40 percent of people shot in Florida are black, while African-Americans make up around 15 percent of the state's population.

Would a bill that would penalize Florida cities and counties for offering sanctuary cities be the toughest in the nation? And do undocumented immigrants have Constitutional rights? WUSF's Steve Newborn poses these questions to Josh Gillin of PolitiFact Florida.

One of the symbols of Florida is no longer an endangered species. That's according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which announced Thursday they're downlisting the manatee from endangered to threatened. Manatees have been classified as endangered since the first federal endangered species list was issued in 1967.

More manatees than ever - 6,300 - were counted during the winter, when they congregate around springs and warm power plant outfalls. But last year, more than one hundred manatees were killed, mostly by boaters.

Even though violent crime has been steadily decreasing, can that be attributed to Florida's decade-old Stand Your Ground Law? WUSF's Steve Newborn poses that question - and another - if nearly half of all gun sales aren't registered - to Katie Sanders of PolitiFact Florida.

A bill that would eliminate building toll lanes on existing free interstate highways has moved through the transportation committee of the Florida Senate.

Gov. Rick Scott gave his sixth State of the State address recently. He touched on some familiar themes, such as claiming to have helped create more than a million new jobs. WUSF's Steve Newborn talks with Allison Graves of PolitiFact Florida to examine Scott's claims on commercial leases, teacher pay, tax cuts - and of course, jobs.

Florida's legislative session is just beginning, but the battle over Governor Rick Scott's most prized programs has been going on for a while. 

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