Tallahassee

News
6:38 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Why Florida's Immigrant Children Must Wait Five Years For Health Care

Severiana Novas-Francois and two of her daughters. Under Florida law, Novas-Francois has to wait until her children have lived here for five years to qualify for the subsidized health insurance known as Florida Kidcare.
Credit Courtesy of Severiana Novas-Francois

In Florida, children who were born outside the United States -- and live here lawfully -- have to wait five years to qualify for the subsidized health care program known as Florida KidCare.

Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, are sponsoring legislation to drop the five-year waiting period.

The law made its third trip to the legislature this year, and will get its first hearing in the Senate committee Tuesday.

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DCF
6:32 pm
Mon March 24, 2014

Miami Herald Series Prompts Changes To Florida Child-Welfare Legislation

Changes to the Florida Department of Children and Families are on the way. Lawmakers are considering legislation after a Miami Herald investigation chronicled the deaths of hundreds of children under the state's watch.
Credit Seandel Edwards/flickr

The Miami Herald series “Innocents Lost” may lead to more changes at DCF – Florida’s Department of Children and Families.

The Herald investigation chronicles the deaths of hundreds of children under DCF’s watch.

Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, is one of the state leaders charged with overseeing DCF as chair of the Senate Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.

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Politics
2:13 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Florida Legislature Considers Beer Growlers, In-Store Tastings

Tired of the same old wine tastings at your local store? Beer samples may be on tap soon if Florida lawmakers give the okay.
Credit burgerduo/flickr

Half a dozen bills about beer have been filed in the Florida Legislature.

The proposals would essentially do two things: allow certain stores to offer beer tastings - like many already do with wine – and legalize 64-ounce containers of beer.

Florida’s weird packaging laws allow 32-ounce and gallon-sized containers, known as growlers. But 64-ounce growlers are illegal. The law dates back to the prohibition era.

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Politics
5:40 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Lawmakers Consider Bills To Allow Guns On School Campuses

Guns would be allowed at school under a bill being considered by Florida lawmakers. The bill would allow at least one volunteer or school employee to carry a concealed weapon.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net

An effort to bring guns to school campuses is moving through the Florida Legislature.

The bill sponsors say this isn’t such a far-fetched idea - eight states allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring guns to school.

Supporters say this may be the best chance to save lives. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, says research on school shootings has found the attacks are often over before police or deputies can respond.

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Politics
5:34 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Session Update: Election Law Changes, Guns In Schools, Gov. Askew Dies

Gov. Reubin Askew takes the oath of office on January 5, 1971. He died last week at age 85.
Credit State Library and Archives of Florida

Lawmakers altered their session schedules this week to say goodbye to former Gov. Reubin Askew. He died Thursday at age 85. Flags are flying at half-staff at local and state buildings.

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Politics
5:25 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Bill To Grant Cheaper Tuition For Undocumented Students Struggles In Senate

No matter how long they've lived in Florida, undocumented students must pay the out-of-state rate to attend college here. It's about three times more expensive than the in-state rate.
Credit freedigitalphotos.net

High school senior Diego Ramirez from Florida City told lawmakers he’s in the top 10 percent of his class. He’s lived in Florida four years and is undocumented.

“I’ve always wanted to go to college [and] become a businessman because that’s my dream,” Ramirez said.

Undocumented students in Florida have to pay out-of-state rate for college, which is three times more expensive.

Now, a bill to grant cheaper, in-state college tuition to undocumented students may be in trouble.

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The Legislature
7:09 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Legislators, Who Want Voters To Make The Gambling Decisions: 'We Stink At This!'

Credit Bruno Belcastro on Flickr

In Tallahassee, the House package of gambling legislation includes a measure that would prevent the Florida Legislature from ever again making a big gambling decision. Click below to hear reporter Rick Stone's radio story on a possible cry for help from lawmakers who don’t think they’re any good at lawmaking. 

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Politics
12:55 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Why Freedom Of The Press Should Matter To You, And Other Tenets Of The First Amendment Foundation

Credit freedigitalphotos.net

When Florida media groups are concerned about freedom of the press and open government, they turn to the First Amendment Foundation for help.

Pete Weitzel, former senior editor of the Miami Herald, founded the non-profit 30 years ago.

The foundation is funded through contributions. It provides training, legal aid, and the annual Government in the Sunshine Manual as a guide to Florida’s open meetings and public-records laws. 

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Politics
6:01 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Lawmakers Join Forces For Protection Of Florida Springs

Wakulla Springs, about half an hour from Tallahassee, is one of the state's first magnitude springs. It offers public swimming and glass-bottom boat rides. When the water is clear, riders can see 120 feet to the bottom.
Credit dep.state.fl.us

Attorney David Guest is not on the fence about the protection of springs.

“They’re acting as if this renewable resource is something you can simply mine and when it’s gone, it’s gone,” said Guest, head of the Florida office of Earthjustice. “It’s been there for thousands of years, and only recently have we had this attitude that you just take it and the future generations just don’t get anything anymore.”

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The Florida Roundup
11:18 am
Fri March 7, 2014

Family Of Teen Israel 'Reefa' Hernandez Will Sue Miami Beach Police

A six-month-long medical examination concluded that the “sudden cardiac death” of Israel “Reefa” Hernandez-Llach was accidental.

 

Governor Rick Scott kicks off the legislative session with a State of the State address touting tax cuts and job creation. The state legislature starts by advancing a bill legalizing a form of medical marijuana and passing tougher sex predator laws.   

A medical report on the death of Israel Hernandez, the teen who was tasered by Miami Beach police, finds that he died of a "sudden cardiac death." Shortly before the report's release, the police chief resigns.

We also hear the latest developments on the protests in Venezuela.

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Politics
3:24 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Republicans Split Over Cheaper Tuition For Undocumented Students

Sen. Jack Latvala's tuition bill includes price breaks for families that pay taxes in Florida, whether they're documented or not.
Credit Greenspoon Marder/flickr

Florida's undocumented residents may soon have access to cheaper college tuition. The proposal is part of a sweeping bill aimed at reducing the cost of higher education.

Undocumented students could pay in-state tuition if they meet certain eligibility requirements. They’ve been paying the out-of-state rate, which is three times more expensive.

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The Sunshine Economy
10:30 pm
Sun February 23, 2014

Big Sugar's Influence Stretches From South Florida To Washington

Sugar companies get money from taxpayers through the U.S. Farm Bill. In turn, those companies pay a privilege tax to help clean up the environmental damage caused by sugar farming.
Credit africa/freedigitalphotos.net

Sugar is one of the biggest special interests in Tallahassee. More sugar comes from Florida than anywhere else in the country. 

It’s grown in a 700,000-acre region between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades known as the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Actual farming acreage, which includes other crops, is 470,000 because of conservation areas and other projects.) 

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StateImpact Florida
10:59 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Three Education Questions For Senate President Don Gaetz

Senate President Don Gaetz doesn't want in-state tuition for undocumented students. He does like the idea of university performance funding.
Credit Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

Florida’s move toward Common Core standards in schools is sure to be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.

Lawmakers will also consider allowing undocumented college students to pay cheaper, in-state tuition. Plus, state universities that improve their graduation rates may be able to boost their funding.

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Parasailing
12:45 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Victims Of Parasailing Accidents Beg Lawmakers For Stronger Regulations

Shannon Kraus cries during a news conference at the Capitol Thursday. Her teenage daughters were in a parasailing accident in 2007 in Pompano Beach. Amber White was killed and Crystal White suffered permanent injuries.
Credit Gina Jordan/WLRN

A series of deaths and injuries may lead to stronger oversight of Florida’s parasailing industry. Victims and their families are lobbying lawmakers in Tallahassee for help.

Crystal White was 17-years-old when she and her younger sister went parasailing in Pompano Beach in 2007. White says she remembers the boat operator talking about bad weather approaching, but he sent them up anyway. Then, the wind picked up.

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Politics
8:28 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Medical Marijuana, Speed Limits And Social Media Privacy On Senator's Agenda

Credit Eric Broder Van Dyke/flickr

  Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, is sponsoring bills to help tackle violations of the Do Not Call list and give employees and job applicants more social media privacy.

Clemens also wants higher speed limits – he admits he’s a speeder – and he still likes red-light cameras, even though he’s been ticketed by one.

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