Tallahassee

Politics
6:24 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Florida Senate President Considers Proposal To Legalize Marijuana Strain

A strain of marijuana that doesn't get users high has been found to help children who suffer from chronic seizures. The strain, known as Charlotte's Web, is currently available only in Colorado. Lawmakers are considering a proposal to make the strain legal in Florida.
Credit tylerericsson1/flickr

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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Politics
8:08 am
Wed January 15, 2014

More Tanning Salons Than McDonald's: Why The Tanning Bed Bill Is Back

Credit Newtown graffiti / Flickr CC

  

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

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Education
1:03 am
Mon January 13, 2014

Another School Choice In Florida: Single-Sex Classrooms

These boys are part of the All Male E.A.G.L.E. Academy at Bond Elementary School in Tallahassee. The acronym stands for Extraordinary Ambitious Gentlemen Leading in Excellence.
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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Jobs
11:20 pm
Thu January 9, 2014

South Florida Democrats Join National Effort For A $10 Minimum Wage

Florida's $7.93 minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25. Efforts are underway around the country to bolster the minimum to more than $10 an hour.
Credit pbarcas/flickr

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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Politics
2:41 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

Ethics Commission Refuses To Close Complaints Against Miami Lawmaker

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, addresses the House of Representatives on May 2, 2013.
Credit Myfloridahouse.gov/MarkFoley

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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Holidays
6:48 pm
Fri December 13, 2013

Florida Capitol's Festivus Pole Gets International Attention

Chaz Stevens and his Festivus beer can pole meet with reporters in the Capitol.
Credit Margie Menzel/News Service of Florida

A 6-foot pole made of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans is making news around the world as it stands in Florida’s Capitol building.

Maker Chaz Stevens and his beer-can pole have been featured on the Colbert Report, the Huffington Post, and the major networks.

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News
12:59 pm
Thu December 12, 2013

Florida Drivers Can Soon Use Smartphones To Show Proof Of Insurance

Proof of auto insurance will soon be as close as your smart phone.
Credit samsungtomorrow/flickr

Florida drivers are required to carry proof of insurance.

Those who are pulled over in Miami-Dade County and can’t show proof of coverage will get a $129 ticket. (It drops to $10 if proof is provided with 30 days that the driver had insurance at the time of the citation.)

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Unemployment
7:29 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Did Gov. Rick Scott Keep His 700,000-Jobs Promise?

Gov. Rick Scott helped Hertz break ground last month on the rental car company’s new corporate headquarters. Hertz is relocating to Estero, FL from New Jersey, creating an anticipated 700 jobs in the state.
Credit Florida Governor's Office

Florida’s economy is improving, and soon voters will have to decide whether Gov. Rick Scott deserves enough of the credit to be reelected next year.

Scott made jobs his top priority. He said his administration would make efforts leading to 700,000 new jobs over seven years – a number above the economic growth forecast by state economists.

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News
5:29 pm
Fri December 6, 2013

Anti-Church And State Group Adds Seasonal Banner To Capitol

Credit Tomas Castelazo / Wikimedia Commons

The Madison, Wis., group Freedom From Religion Foundation has brought in a seasonal display for the first-floor rotunda of the Florida Capitol, days after the Florida Prayer Network put up a privately funded nativity scene depicting the birth of Jesus Christ.

The foundation, a non-profit that advocates for non-theists and promotes the separation of church and state, proclaimed its "Bill of Rights nativity" banner as a counter to the nativity scene.

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News
6:10 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Florida Sets Record For Tourism

Visit Florida President and CEO Will Seccombe joins Gov. Rick Scott at Busch Gardens in Tampa to announce record tourism numbers.
Credit Florida Governor's Office

The three-month period ending in September brought almost 23 million visitors to Florida. That's the highest number ever for a third quarter.

The state is on pace to welcome about 95 million tourists in 2013. That would be a record, but shy of the 100-million goal the governor’s office was hoping for this year.

And it’s not just about the theme parks. Many visitors are hitting Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach from international destinations.

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Elevation Zero
6:06 pm
Mon November 18, 2013

Tallahassee Silent On Sea-Level Rise

The Army Corps of Engineers has several scenarios for sea level rise in South Florida. Predictions range from 3 to 7 inches by 2030 and 9 to 24 inches by 2060.
Credit Ahurey eM/flickr

If the state uses projections from the Army Corps of Engineers, policy leaders should be planning for a possible two-foot sea-level rise by 2060.

But so far, it’s largely been up to local governments to figure out how to handle higher water.

“Sea-level rise is something that will impact millions of people throughout the state,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach. “It’s preposterous to think we wouldn’t think about that, but in reality, we’re not doing a damn thing.”

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Politics
4:06 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Government Watchdog Finds $1 Billion In Savings For Florida Taxpayers

Florida Taxwatch has come up with suggested cost savings for the state for the last five years. Lawmakers and the governor have acted on $4.2 billion in recommended savings so far.
Credit Jordan Michael/WLRN

Florida TaxWatch, a nonprofit government watchdog group, is out with its annual list of ways the state can cut costs and be more efficient -- without cutting services.

The report, called Modern Management & Sensible Savings, found $1.2 billion that could potentially be returned to state coffers. Lawmakers could act on the recommendations when they convene for the annual legislative session next spring.

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News
8:25 pm
Mon November 4, 2013

State Says Bug-Prone Unemployment System Is Improving

Jesse Panuccio is in his first year as executive director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. The department oversees unemployment benefits.
Credit floridajobs.org

Florida’s new unemployment claims system isn’t perfect yet, but state leaders say it’s less bug-prone.

The Florida Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee got an update Monday on problems with the new system, which launched three weeks ago.

Executive Director Jesse Panuccio runs the Department of Economic Opportunity, which oversees the program for jobless benefits.

He says the kinks have mostly been worked out.

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News
6:04 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

State Working To Fix Glitch-Ridden Unemployment Website

Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity provides unemployment benefits worth up to $275 a week to more than 200,000 Floridians. But glitches in the new system are preventing thousands of people from signing up for benefits.
Credit Reilly Shiarella/flickr

Florida has a new website for unemployment claims, and much like the federal government’s health insurance website, it’s plagued with problems.

The Reemployment Assistance Connect System – known as CONNECT – is where jobless Floridians must go to file their claims. It’s overseen by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

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Politics
3:11 pm
Thu October 31, 2013

Legislative Leaders Join Attorney General In Fight Against Medical Marijuana

The Office of National Drug Control Policy says 20 states and Washington, DC have passed laws allowing medical marijuana since 1996.
Credit Eric Broder Van Dyke/flickr

Legislative leaders are joining the fight against an effort to get a medical marijuana proposal on the ballot next year.

Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Destin, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, say they will file a brief with the Florida Supreme Court opposing the initiative.

Gaetz sent a memo to the Florida Senate saying he doesn’t think the proposal meets legal requirements.

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