Tallahassee

 

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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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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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.) 

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.

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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  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.

Gina Jordan / WLRN

Miami-Dade County has another chance at getting a program that would enable drug users to safely exchange their dirty syringes.

A bill to create a five-year pilot program has been filed again in Tallahassee, and a University of Miami medical student is behind the push.

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On The Florida Roundup: The Florida State Supreme Court allows a proposal to legalize medical marijuana to appear on the November ballot. We’ll see how that could affect the governor’s race.

Governor Rick Scott has a $72.4 billion dollar spending plan for the state: the biggest cut was to the state agency that runs the Medicaid program because the state won’t be receiving federal money under the Affordable Care Act. What will that mean for the approximately 3 million Medicaid recipients in Florida?

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Elections officials certified on Friday, Jan. 24, that the campaign to legalize medical marijuana in Florida collected enough qualified signatures to put the proposed amendment on this November's ballot.

Campaign manager Ben Pollara says his organization, United We Care, gathered more than 1 million signatures to come up with the 683,149 needed to win a ballot spot.

He is now starting to fundraise for what he says will be an expensive and difficult campaign.

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How about getting a taste of beer as you fill your grocery cart? A bill moving through the Florida Senate would enable stores like Publix and Costco to offer their customers samples of beer.

Senator Nancy Detert, R-Venice, says it’s only fair.

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Desperate pleas from parents of sick kids got the attention of legislative leaders in the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee last week.  

“We just need solutions quickly. We don’t have time. Time is not on our side,” said Seth Hyman from Weston. “Rebecca unfortunately could have a seizure today back in our hotel and die.”

“All the medications he’s on – it’s not a guarantee. He’s actually suicidal right now,” said Renee Petro from Uthia, talking about her son Branden. “He wants to kill himself. He’s 12.”

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The World Health Organization lists tanning beds among the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation.

Gina Jordan/StateImpact Florida

A handful of public schools in Florida have either all-girls or all-boys classrooms. More could be coming.

Rep. Manny Diaz, R-Hialeah, is behind a bill that would have one school in districts throughout the state offer only single-sex classes. The proposed legislation would create a pilot project in designated districts for two years.

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Florida’s minimum wage rose by 14 cents on Jan. 1, to $7.93 per hour. But two South Florida lawmakers say that doesn't go far enough.

They’ve filed bills to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The wage increase would also apply to workers who earn tips, like restaurant servers currently making $4.91 per hour.

Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Cutler Bay, and Rep. Cynthia Stafford, D-Opa-Locka, say they’re trying to get more people out of poverty.

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Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, hasn’t put his issues with the Florida Commission on Ethics behind him.

Fresen is refusing to pay a $1,500 fine related to his work as a legislative aide in 2003. He was fined because he didn’t file a required financial form.

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