politics

Environment
1:46 pm
Mon January 12, 2015

Florida Lawmakers Seek Public Input On Conservation Amendment

Weeki Wachee Springs, FL
Credit George/flickr

Florida voters passed the Water and Land Conservation Amendment in November. It requires one third of documentary stamp revenue – a tax on real estate transactions - to go toward environmental initiatives.

The Florida Legislature must spend a portion of the documentary stamp money on environmental programs, like buying land and preserving springs.

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News
11:24 am
Mon January 12, 2015

Medical Pot Push Resumes with Tweaks

Originally published on Mon January 12, 2015 9:26 am

Proponents of medical marijuana began an encore campaign for legalization Friday, filing a rewritten ballot measure just two months after one narrowly failed to pass.

Backers of the initial constitutional amendment appeared to have a wave of support on their side, but fell short of the 60 percent threshold needed as a surge of ads emerged claiming the measure's language was riddled with holes.

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Florida Legislature
5:46 pm
Wed January 7, 2015

Florida Senators Raise Testing Questions At Budget Hearing

Lawmakers seem ready to reconsider the amount and scope of required testing.

State Senator Bill Montford, leader of the Florida's school superintendents association, said he's not sure schools will have the technology in place for new online exams this spring.

Education Commissioner Pam Stewart told the Senate Education Appropriations committee that Florida's new statewide tests, the Florida Standards Assessments, are on track for use beginning in March. The tests are tied to new Common Core-based math, reading and writing standards.

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News
10:34 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Miami-Dade Couple Getting Marriage License: "The Mundane Becomes Magical"

Deborah Shure and Aymarah Robles show the ticket that holds their place in line for a marriage license.
Credit John O'Connor / WRLN

The counter on the wall of Miami-Dade County's marriage license office says 59. Deborah Shure and Aymarah Robles hold number 60.

Robles says they’ve been waiting 15 years to be able to marry each other. Minutes before, a Miami-Dade judge said same-sex couples could get marriage licenses.

“And I’m still crying and I don’t think it’s going to stop today," Robles says.

Shure and Robles ducked out after the verdict to grab an early spot in line. Dozens of couples followed.

About an hour later, their wait was over.

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News
8:36 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Florida Keys' First Gay Marriage Becomes Public Celebration

Aaron Hunstman and William Lee Jones were the first gay couple to receive a marriage license and wed in Key West.
Credit Carol Tedesco / Florida Keys News Service

At 12:18 a.m. Tuesday, the two men who won the first ruling overturning Florida's ban on gay marriage became the first gay couple to get married in Monroe County.

Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones exchanged vows in front of 500 people — including close friends, attorneys, total strangers, TV crews and a few tourists.

The Rev. Steve Torrance, a chaplain with the Key West Police Department and minister with the Metropolitan Community Church declared them legally married, and the couple was greeted with cheers, applause and the sound of a conch shell.

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News
8:22 am
Tue January 6, 2015

Palm Beach County's Same-Sex Group Wedding A Festive Affair

Newlyweds Liz Mabry (l.) and Cristina Jimenez (r.) show off the matching t-shirts they wore for their wedding at the Delray Beach courthouse.
Credit Christine DiMattei

In downtown Delray Beach Monday night, same-sex couples who gathered to get hitched in a group wedding were greeted by balloons, flowers and dancing in the streets.

The doors of the South County Courthouse opened at 10:30 p.m. so marriage licenses could be processed before the ceremony. By then, dozens of couples were lined up outside, and a few started slow-dancing on the sidewalk after someone docked an iPod to a speaker.

Shortly after midnight, about 80 couples exchanged vows in a civil ceremony presided over by County Clerk Sharon Bock.

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Feature
7:56 am
Tue January 6, 2015

After Half A Century Together, Florida Retirees Become Gay Marriage Activists

Robert Collier, left, and Charles Hunziger, right, at their Fort Lauderdale home.
Credit Nadege Green / WLRN

Robert Collier and Charles Hunziger have been together for 52 years.

They are one of nine same sex couples who sued Florida to recognize their marriages in a federal case that ultimately struck down the state’s gay marriage ban Tuesday.

Collier and Hunziger say they never meant to become gay activists, to be plaintiffs in a lawsuit that would change Florida law. But as they started getting older, they started thinking about how they wanted to leave things better than they were for them.

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Sunshine Economy
2:02 pm
Mon January 5, 2015

U.S. Cuba Policy Changes: Opportunity Or Entrenchment?

Credit WLRN

Miami is not a top departure point for American goods headed to Cuba. So say the official U.S. government trade statistics. Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale is the second-largest American port from which goods are sent to Cuba.

Yes, despite the 53-year-old trade embargo, America still does a little business with Cuba. The U.S. sells fresh and frozen chicken, soybeans, corn and an assortment of other food and medical supplies. 

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The Florida Roundup
5:26 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

LISTEN: Understanding Same-Sex Marriage In Florida

As of Friday, Jan. 2, courts in three of four South Florida counties were prepared to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6.
Credit Peetje2 / Creative Commons/Flickr

2015 began with a clarification over same-sex marriages in Florida. All county clerks can issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning Tuesday, Jan. 6.

Before that happens, take a moment to hear this interview with the Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus. You'll learn all the background info you need to understand what's going on in the courts locally and in Tallahassee.

Key points:

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News
2:54 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Growler Size Restriction Could Soon Be A Thing Of The Past

Florida is one of only two states in the country with a 64 ounce restriction. The other is Utah.

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 10:04 pm

Craft-brewing in Florida is big business getting bigger, but many within the community are unhappy about a certain size restriction.  In Florida it's legal to fill large bottles known as growlers—just not in the industry-standard size of 64 ounces.  But the craft brewing community is mobilizing again this year to get rid of the size regulation.

Mike and Bobby Carbonell are brothers and they run a little shop called Growler Country. 

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Politics
2:52 pm
Mon December 29, 2014

Some Hopeful Bill Allowing Young Sex Abuse Victims To Secretly Record Abusers Will Pass

One of the posters for the "Don't Miss the Signs" campaign, launched last year by sex abuse survivor and victims advocate Lauren Book and DCF.

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 8:14 am

At least one lawmaker has followed through on an abuse survivor’s vow to make sure legislation was filed to allow young victims to use private recordings in sex abuse cases. It follows a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that will now allow a man convicted of abusing his stepdaughter to get a new trial, after she taped an incriminating conversation without his consent.

The Case

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News
3:16 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Bill Would Clear Way For Recordings In Sexual-Abuse Cases

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 9:01 am

Moving quickly after the Florida Supreme Court ordered a new trial for a man convicted of sexually abusing his stepdaughter, a state lawmaker Friday filed a bill that would allow secretly recorded conversations to be used as evidence in such cases.

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Politics
12:15 pm
Tue December 23, 2014

Legislature Says Fair Districts Amendment Is "Unenforceable"

Lawyers for the Legislature say Amendment 6 in the Florida Constitution conflicts with the U.S. Constitution.
Credit apalapala/flickr

Lawyers for the Legislature told the Florida Supreme Court in a brief filed late Friday that part of a state ban on political gerrymandering violates the U.S. Constitution.

The filing is the latest chapter in a long-running battle over whether lawmakers rigged congressional districts during the 2012 redistricting process to benefit Republicans. Voting-rights organizations argue that the maps were influenced by politics, contrary to an amendment to the Florida Constitution approved by voters in 2010.

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Cuba Travel
12:00 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

Here's What The New U.S.-Cuba Rules Mean For Travelers

Credit freedigitalphotos.net/Arvind Balaraman

A promise that travel to Cuba would be easier for Americans was part of President Obama’s historic announcement this week that he’s taking steps to normalize relations.

What will the easing of sanctions against Cuba mean for the average traveler -- as well as for people who want to do business there?

We asked reporter Mimi Whitefield, who covers the Latin American economy for the Miami Herald.

Here are a few things you need to know.

Below is an edited transcript.

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Politics
7:18 pm
Thu December 18, 2014

Proposed Law Would Further Limit Drone Surveillance

Lawmakers are preparing legislation to address the potential abuse of surveillance technology. Sen. Dorothy Hukill says the technology for drones and tracking devices is becoming more affordable and easy for anyone to obtain.
Credit David Rodriguez Martin/flickr

The Florida Legislature passed a bill in 2013 that limits the government’s ability to use drones for unwarranted surveillance. Now, a new proposal would give people greater privacy rights on their own property.

The proposed legislation would take surveillance restrictions on drones a step further than last year’s law.

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