State News

In a ruling that could reshape the state's political landscape, a Leon County judge recommended Friday that the Florida Supreme Court adopt congressional districts proposed by a coalition of voting-rights groups.

The decision by Circuit Judge Terry Lewis was a blow to House and Senate leaders who argued for other maps of the state's 27 congressional seats in a three-day hearing last month. Lewis was charged with recommending a plan to the Supreme Court, which will make the final decision, after the House and Senate failed to agree on a new map during an August special session.

Judge Affirms Florida Bear Hunt

Oct 5, 2015

A judge has ruled Florida's first bear hunt in two decades may proceed later this month. The judge ruled against environmentalists who argue the hunt will damage the population of the animal that was removed from the state's threatened list in 2012.

Judge George Reynolds' decision came after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission appeared to shift its stance on a rule environmentalists had complained about.

Representatives of the state agency testified its executive director can end the hunt after the first day if its goal of 320 slain bears is met. Reynolds was satisfied.

Capital Report: 10-02-2015

Oct 5, 2015

Governor Rick Scott is pushing for greater healthcare cost transparency in hospitals. Lynn Hatter reports the move comes as Florida faces the loss of more federal health care funding next year, and growing concerns about the state’s healthcare costs.

President Barack Obama has his foreign policy objectives, and Florida has its. Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is leaning on the Florida Legislature to strengthen the state’s economic sanctions against Iran just as Obama prepares to lift America’s trade restrictions against the Mid-eastern nation. Jim Ash has more.

Florida’s first bear hunt in more than 20 years should be able to proceed later this month says Leon Circuit Judge George Reynolds III. Reynolds denied an environmental group’s request for a temporary injunction Thursday.

church
giveawayboy via Flickr

The next Florida legislative session doesn’t start until January, but committees are already meeting to consider bills. One measure up for discussion next week would shield churches when clergy refuse to perform same-sex marriages.


Florida doesn’t collect income tax, and whiles that’s nice it makes property taxes much more important.  One state lawmaker is hoping to curb abuse of a popular property exemption.

Ryan Benk / WJCT News

Clay County officials outlined their legislative priorities in a two-hour meeting of the area’s legislative delegation Tuesday.

Clay County Supervisor of Elections Chris Chambliss aired his concerns regarding public records law.

Chambliss said personally identifying voter-registration information can be requested by anyone.

“We’ve had inmates who are serving life sentences that are making public records requests for individuals’ personal information, including their name, their full address and their full date of birth,” Chambliss said.

Each year legislative and business leaders gather to discuss the state of Florida's water. This year's Florida Water Forum drew some 200 leaders to Orlando for updates on the state's water and environmental policy. The keynote speaker was Florida agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam. He said the state faces a water shortage.

It’s Saturday morning and despite the rain, a handful of merchants chats and bobs to the music at the Frenchtown Heritage Market in Tallahassee. The market has a central location where people using food stamps, now called SNAP Benefits, can cash them in for brightly colored plastic tokens to spend on produce. Jim Bellamy heads up the market. He leads me to a central table where Darci Washington is wait with a silver cash box.

apartment building
Milestone Management via Flickr

For home renters without insurance, a fire or burst pipe can ruin everything they own. One Jacksonville lawmaker wants to require landlords to spell that out clearly in writing.

Sen. Audrey Gibson (D-Jacksonville) wants to make it mandatory for leases to say renters’ insurance is required to protect your belongings—and for renters to check a box saying they understand.

Phillip Pessar via Flickr

Nassau, St. Johns and 15 other Florida counties will not be able to squeeze more tax money from online-travel companies. The state Supreme Court has declined to reconsider their ruling siding with the companies.


Depression can be a clear indication that bullying is taking place
Florida Department of Children and Families

Last week, lawmakers reviewed Florida's progress toward helping child victims of sex trafficking, as a 2014 law starts to yield more information about victims.

The House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee heard presentations from state officials about the law, which made a wide range of changes to try to curb sex trafficking. That included creating a new screening system, which was rolled out in April, to better identify and serve sexually exploited children.

Pat Gaines via Flickr

With Florida black bear hunting season scheduled to start next month, a conservation group is asking a judge to block it. But a veteran wildlife lawyer says the group’s chance of success is slim.


Kyra Trahern / Facebook

The state's child-welfare chief said the recent death of a 4-year-old Palatka boy, allegedly strangled by an older child in his home, points to the challenges posed by families in which addiction, sexual abuse and domestic violence create a perilous environment.

In the case of 4-year-old Brayden Trahern, the boy's extended family had repeatedly been involved in beatings, molestations, incarceration, homelessness, prostitution and drug abuse going back years, Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll said in an interview this week.

Capital Report: 09-04-2015

Sep 4, 2015

Florida lawmakers will meet later this month to go over a report that is raising more questions than answers about the state’s new standardized test. Lynn Hatter reports teachers and local superintendents aren’t buying the results of the study, which found the Florida Standards Assessment Valid.

Solar power has always been popular in the Sunshine State and as the costs come down, interest in the clean energy alternative is heating up. And so is the political battle for control of the market. Jim Ash has more

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