The Sunshine Edition


In our final installment of Session 2014: The Sunshine Edition, we highlight the big events from this legislative season.

Stand Your Ground reform did not get far, but bills to allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state colleges and universities and to legalize a form of medical marijuana made it through the Republican-controlled legislature, and Governor Rick Scott says he will sign them. 

WLRN-Miami Herald News' Gina Jordan walks us through hallways of the Capitol in the remaining hours of the session.


The gloves came off Wednesday morning in a debate on whether the Beckham soccer stadium should be built at PortMiami. One takeaway was just how complicated this issue has become.

With ads against the stadium filling the airwaves; it seems as though getting the port location won't be as simple as Beckham and his team originally anticipated. 

The ads, along with other opposition, come from the Miami Seaport Alliance. The alliance is a group of companies that believe the stadium will interfere with their business.

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.