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First Read: Football Season Is Officially Here

Sunday was the first home game of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ regular season. Florida is expecting a budget surplus this year, and Attorney General Pam Bondi wants some of that money to go toward untested DNA samples. A Northeast Florida lawmaker is predicting Medicaid expansion won't be a factor during the next legislative session.

It’s Tuesday, September 15, 2015. Welcome to WJCT First Read, your daily weekday morning round-up of stories from the First Coast, around Florida and across the country.

Here are 7 stories you don’t want to miss.

Jaguars A Win For Jacksonville Economy...Especially When They Win

The Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce celebrated the return of football with a pep rally last week. But what effect the team has on business in the River City remains murky.

AG Bondi: DNA Testing Crucial In Solving Sex Crimes

Legislative leaders have suggested that budget surplus money should be earmarked for education or handed back to Floridians in the form of tax breaks. But the state’s attorney general is hoping some of that money will be used to support the testing of what she estimates are thousands of untested DNA samples stacking up in crime labs.

Bean Says Medicaid Expansion Unlikely In 2016

Senate Health Policy Chairman Sen. Aaron Bean (R-Fernandina Beach) said his focus will be on bringing down health care costs, rather than expanding coverage in 2016. That’s because the federal government agreed to extend funding for uninsured patients through next year.

Florida DCF Secretary Says Boy's Death Shows 'Deep-Seated Issues'

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.

New Palm Beach County Schools Chief Wants To Shake Up Florida Education

Palm Beach County schools superintendent Robert Avossa has traveled all over Palm Beach County to find others with similar advice about how to run the district. But while he’s listening, the 43-year-old Avossa is also bringing plenty of big ideas with him from his previous job in Fulton County, Georgia.

Environmentalists Protest New South Florida Water District Leader

Environmentalists are protesting the appointment of a new executive director to the South Florida Water Management District. They say Pete Antonacci's appointment is another example of growing state influence in Florida's five water districts. Antonacci had been Governor Rick Scott's general counsel. He lacks a background in science.

2016 Florida Healthcare Rates Raise A Question: Where Did The PPOs Go?

A major change Floridians using the exchange will see next year is the absence of Preferred Provider Network plans. PPOs tend to be more expensive, but they also come with flexibility for consumers on which doctor to choose, which specialist, and coverage if they go out of network. Taking their place are EPOs or exclusive provider organizations.

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Ray Hollister can be reached at, 904-358-6341 or on Twitter at @rayhollister.