State

News stories that impact the state of Florida.

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
Voice of America / Wikimedia Commons

Refugees hoping to resettle in Florida could have to submit to an extra round of background checks if one Jacksonville lawmaker has his way.

Rep. Lake Ray (R-Jacksonville) has filed a bill requiring resettlement organizations to report more about who’s coming in.


Cheetah Club interior
Cheetah Palm Beach

Florida could soon be the first state to require a mental-health expert to be present during police interviews of developmentally disabled suspects or victims.

That’s if lawmakers approve a bill called the Wes Kleinert Fair Interview Act.


It’s been a yearlong party in northeast Florida as St. Augustine celebrates its 450th anniversary.  The city bills itself as “America’s oldest,” but is it?

swing set
Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

 

It’s winter break for most public school students. Some of them spent one of their last days of freedom at Kona, a Jacksonville skate park.

Fifth-grader Sam Myers was practicing some tricks Wednesday afternoon.

 


young man under arrest
Chris Yarzab via Flickr

Bills are moving in the House and Senate that would limit the ability of Florida prosecutors to charge juvenile offenders as adults, a legal practice known as "direct file."

Each measure has passed one committee, and they could be on a collision course, turning on the question of how much discretion prosecutors should have in such cases.

Florida rest stop
Mark D L via Flickr

Signs intended to raise awareness about human trafficking are expected to be prominently displayed at rest areas, airports, emergency rooms and strip clubs starting Friday, Jan. 1, as a law passed during the 2015 legislative session goes into effect with the new year.

Another new law revises requirements for athletic trainers, while a portion of a tax-cut package also is put in place.

The new laws taking effect this week are almost the last of 232 bills that came out of the 2015 session. The bulk went into effect July 1.

crowd at Miami Beach
pml2008 via Flickr

Florida has surpassed the 20 million population mark while growing faster than California.

The Sunshine State, adding more than 1,000 people a day, is nearly up a half-million people on New York, which it surpassed a year ago to become the third most-populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released Tuesday.

Florida, with an estimated 20,271,272 residents as of July 1, is also growing faster than a year earlier, when 803 people a day were being added to the state's head count.

Innov8Social.com / Flickr Creative Commons

Florida has added a million jobs since 2010.

That’s according to new numbers released by the state Department of Economic Opportunity Friday.

But, other economic indicators continue to be stagnant.


Floridians for Solar Choice

The light is fading for one of two solar-energy initiatives trying to get on Florida's 2016 ballot.
 
The "Floridians for Solar Choice" coalition, which remains about 400,000 petitions short of qualifying for the 2016 ballot and is in the midst of a contract dispute with a petition-gathering firm, announced Thursday night it has started to explore options for appearing on the 2018 ballot. 

Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a key supporter of the coalition, on Friday called the decision "a strategic pivot."

marijuana plant
Brett Levin / Flickr

In a key step for supporters of legalizing medical marijuana, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would go on the November 2016 ballot.

Justices said the proposal, spearheaded by the group People United for Medical Marijuana, meets legal tests that include dealing with a single subject and having a clearly worded ballot title and summary. The Supreme Court does not consider the merits of proposed constitutional amendments but reviews them, in part, to make sure voters would not be misled.

baby's shoulder
Lisa Williams via Flickr

Nearly a year after same-sex marriages started in Florida, a legal decision could be looming in a dispute about birth certificates for children of same-sex couples.

Two couples and an advocacy group asked a federal judge last week to require the Florida Department of Health to list both spouses on birth certificates of children born into same-sex marriages, as the department typically does when married parents are a man and a woman.

SunPass highway sign
bankbryan via Flickr

Time is running out for about 100,000 SunPass customers to convert, for free, to new transponders.

Older, battery-operated transponders used for Florida toll roads and some bridges become obsolete with the New Year.

Lindsey Kilbride / WJCT News

At Sweet Pete’s downtown, kids marched up the stairs Monday to learn about candy making in the repurposed historical building, once the Seminole Club.

Across the hall, Gov. Rick Scott was awarding the owners of the business, Sweet Pete himself and wife Allison Behringer, with Governor's Business Ambassador medals for hiring 75 new employees over the last year after relocating downtown.

 


greyhounds racing
Rainer Hungershausen via Flickr

Once posh destinations drawing A-list socialites, celebrities and gangsters, Florida's dog and horse tracks are now at the center of a dispute over whether they should be allowed to do away with live racing altogether.

Chaz Stevens / Facebook

Visitors to the Florida Capitol this month will not see a Nativity scene that had stood in its rotunda for the past two holiday seasons. Its sponsor says she’s tired of the debate and counter-displays it attracted.

Meanwhile one of those counter-displays is returning to the rotunda—and it’s more brightly-colored than ever.


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