Session 2014

C. M. Guerrero / El Nuevo Herald


In Miami, the debate over land for a Major League Soccer stadium now moves where there currently is no land -- a deep water boat slip next to the American Airlines Arena.

While the site doesn't have the same alliance of opponents -- unions, cruise lines and cargo carriers -- that opposed the PortMiami location, it comes with its own challenges.

Palm Beach County Is Slot Out Of Luck

May 2, 2014
Lisann Ramos

This legislative session  has toyed with the hearts of gaming aficionados who want more gambling, especially in Palm Beach County. 

Giants like Genting are pushing for casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward, but Palm Beach doesn't seem to be getting the same amount of love. 

Because of a vote that took place 10 years ago, Palm Beach doesn't allow slot machines in the county. 

This leaves gamblers there with no other option but to go south for slots. Elizabeth Paquette of West Palm Beach is one of those gamblers.

How Florida's In-State Tuition Bill Would Change The Life Of A Homestead Student

May 1, 2014
Mayra Rubio

Mayra Rubio was 3 months-old when she moved to Homestead with her brother and parents from Guadalajara, Mexico.

After she graduated from South Dade Senior High, she realized she could not afford the out-of-state tuition for public colleges and universities. Undocumented students do not get the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates.

So instead, Mayra worked with her father in the fields and groves of South Miami-Dade County. She picked and packed avocados and mangos.

Talia / Flickr CC

A bill was passed by the state Senate this week that would OK a very limited strain of medical marijuana.

The cannabis extract is known as Charlotte's Web, which is geared to help neurological conditions for a limited amount of epilepsy patients.

Dahlia Barnhart was 2 years old and living in Tampa when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Her mom Moriah moved the family to Memphis so Dahlia could get treatment at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Judy Baxter / Flickr/Creative Commons

Homestead resident Mayra Rubio was in the audience during President Obama's 2014 State of the Union address and was hoping to hear about reforms that could change her life. She was an undocumented immigrant, though she is now a recipient of deferred action from U.S. authorities. While the president's speech said little about immigration, the state legislature is poised to pass a bill that will allow state colleges and universities to treat undocumented immigrants similar to in-state students and pay a lower tuition rate.


The Florida Legislature will pass a flurry of bills this week. But the only thing they’re constitutionally required to do is pass a state budget.

Lawmakers settled on a budget worth slightly more than $77 billion – the largest in state history. They’ll vote on the spending plan Friday night to close out the legislative session.

In spite of Florida’s laws regarding open government, much of the budget negotiations have taken place in private.

Gina Jordan/WLRN

Ft. Walton Beach Republican Representative Matt Gaetz is helping carry on the family name in politics.

One week shy of 32 years old, he’s one of the state’s youngest lawmakers. He’s now running for the state Senate. His dad is Senate President Don Gaetz, also a Panhandle Republican.

But Matt Gaetz is an attorney who is not just sitting in his dad’s shadow.

Could Marijuana Determine Florida Governor's Race?

Apr 30, 2014
James Perkins / Flickr/Creative Commons



Medical marijuana. Same-sex marriage. These used to be taboo political subjects but no more.

Almost half of Florida voters support gay marriage. 70 percent are okay with legalizing medical marijuana. Those are significant swings of support from just a few years ago. How are Floridan attitudes toward cultural issues changing? What’s the political impact at the ballot box in this gubernatorial election year? Former governor Bob Graham and George LeMieux, who spearheaded Charlie Crist's gubernatorial campaign, give us their take.

Confederate Flags On Display At Florida's Capitol

Apr 29, 2014
hculligan / flickr

Last week, Florida's Capitol hosted confederate flags in its rotunda. 

The Sons of Confederate Veterans group got clearance to display the flags in commemoration of their ancestors, who died during the Civil War. April 26 was Confederate Memorial Day, an official state holiday since 1895.

Kelly Crocker is one of the Sons of Confederate Veterans who put up the display. 

Department of Children and Families

Florida’s child protective agency’s new designated leader comes from within the troubled agency. Mike Carroll currently runs the Department of Children and Families operations in Tampa and Southwest Florida. What does his nomination mean about the direction of the agency? We speak with Carroll and the Miami Herald's Carol Marbin Miller.  

Florida parents, school kids and teachers await to see what next school year’s assessment test focused on Common Core State Standards will be. While they wait, they’re watching New York state parents opting out of Common Core testing.

Dale Calder on Flickr

Somewhere on the quality scale between Internet scuttlebutt and peer-reviewed research, you'll find the case for medical marijuana. It relies mostly on the recent discovery of the endo-cannabinoid system, an elaborate network of brain receptors that are activated by the components of marijuana to send comfort and cure to the human body.

Jack Cory / WLRN

Tallahassee is full of lobbyists, and they’re in high gear at the Capitol for the final week of the legislative session.

A lobbyist is someone who is hired by a company or organization to convince lawmakers to pass legislation benefiting their clients.

Long-time lobbyist Jack Cory doesn’t stop moving much during the session. His firm’s two-dozen clients include the Florida Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Florida Citrus Sports, and the Florida and National Greyhound Associations.

Meredyth Hope Hall / Courtesy of the Florida Governor's Office



For two months each year,160 men and women elected by Florida voters gather in Tallahassee to make state policies. Everyday during this final week of the legislative session, WLRN-Miami Herald News will be reporting and examining what Florida lawmakers have accomplished, what’s been ignored, and how it will affect you for our special Session 2014: The Sunshine Edition.

Lisann Ramos

Miami Beach City Hall was at capacity this Earth Day when Sen. Bill Nelson held a field hearing on sea-level rise. 

The hearing attracted environmentalists from across South Florida and the country. 

The witnesses who spoke on account of sea-level rise included government officials Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs.

The other witnesses were scientists Piers Sellers and Fred Bloetscher, CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau William Talbert, and Dr. Megan Linkin from the Swiss Re reinsurance company. 



For more than a year, the Miami Herald dug through Department of Children & Families records and police reports to find out how and why nearly 500 children died over the past six years after falling through the Florida Department of Children & Families’ protective net.  

The investigative series, Innocents Lost, uncovered the disturbing stories and found that the agency had embraced a family preservation philosophy without ensuring all the necessary social services were in place to keep children safe in troubled homes.