Blaise Gainey

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, Netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter.

Follow Blaise Gainey on Twitter: @BlaiseGainey 

Email Blaise Gainey at blgainey@fsu.edu

The Florida Legislature passed a bill that makes changes to the elections system in the state. It extends the time voters can request a vote-by-mail ballot from 5 days to 10 days. The hope is that it will prevent ballots from being mailed in at the last minute. Former Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho doesn’t think the change will have much of an effect.

The Democratic field for the 2020 presidential nomination is crowded with names like Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and former Vice President Joe Biden. With more than 20 confirmed candidates it can be easy for some to go unnoticed. I spoke with a Florida candidate who says he’s still working to get more recognition. Mayor of Miramar Wayne Messam put his name in the hat back in March.

President Donald Trump flew into Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City Wednesday to tour the base and check in on the recovery process ahead of a campaign rally in Panama City Beach.  Officials on the base and the community spoke about what it means to have the President pay them a visit.

Tyndall Air Force Base is still recovering from Hurricane Michael. Currently though as construction still takes place no new projects can be started until they receive more funds from the Congress. 

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is slated to get nearly 4 million dollars from the federal government to help cover costs of debris removal following Hurricane Michael.

Leon Circuit Judge James Hankinson is expected to make a decision this week on whether to postpone the joint trial for the Dan Markel murder case.

The United States Committee on House Administration held a field hearing Monday to examine voting rights and elections systems in Florida.

Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that details how a felon would go about getting their voting rights restored. It comes on the final day of the regular legislative session and  after 5.1 million Floridians voted in November to give felons who’ve completed their sentence and did not commit a felony sexual assault or murder their voting rights back.

Since January 8, felons have been registering to vote as long as they’ve completed their sentence, and did not commit a felony sexual offense or murder. But all session long the legislature has been trying to determine exactly who that excludes. The current bill includes attempted murder, and also makes a felon have to pay off any outstanding civil liens or obligations to the court as a result of their case.

North Florida hasn’t gotten much help from outside sources following October's Category 5 Hurricane Michael. Keiser University made donations to the panhandle area, State and local officials used an event marking a $50,000 donation from Keiser University to continue drawing attention to the area's need for more financial assistance.

It’s a known fact that smoking tobacco isn’t good for your heart, lung, and can cause cancer. But the leading groups on those very things are opposed to a bill that would raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. WFSU’s Blaise Gainey speaks with American Heart Association’s Government Relations Director Mark Landreth about why they oppose the proposed legislation.

Tyndall Air Force Base will host its second Industry Day Thursday to give updates on it recovery efforts. The base was damaged during Hurricane Michael, which has since been upgraded to a Category 5 storm.

An effort to raise the smoking age to 21 is moving forward. The bill’s sponsor hopes the deal will be enough to satisfy opponents and pave the way for greater restrictions on tobacco use.

Earlier this week legislators on the House floor spent nearly two hours debating a bill that would allow certain felons to vote. This is in response to over 5 million citizens agreeing that they should be allowed to do so. Majority of the debate was focused on when a felon would have their voting right restored.

Florida’s firefighters are a step closer to gaining cancer coverage. Blaise Gainey reports it’s the culmination of a 16-year-effort.

Tuesday, lawmakers took a big step in addressing what property insurance companies have called fraud for nearly a decade. It’s called assignment of benefits. The fix makes several changes that lawmakers believe will help lower the cost of homeowner’s insurance.

Voters across Florida will likely have a chance to raise the minimum wage during the 2020 election if a constitutional amendment petition gains enough signatures. Florida’s Financial Impact Estimating Conference met today to find out what impact it would have on the state.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is throwing his weight behind the firefighter cancer relief bill, one of the main priorities this session.One part of the bill gives a one-time cash payout of $25,000 to firefighters upon their initial cancer diagnosis.

Blaise Gainey talks with the CFO what the bill means for the state’s first responders.

A bill would allow prescription drugs from Canada to be purchased by the Agency for Health Care Administration and imported for use. The hope is that importing the inexpensive drugs will cut down cost for patients.

A bill that would set a cap on toll roads in Miami-Dade County has passed the full House. Bill sponsor Hialeah Republican Representative Bryan Avila says what the Expressway Authority is not doing its job. 

 

According to a study by the Institute of Medicine published in 2015, paid for by the United States Food and Drug Administration, raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 would reduce the number of lung cancer related deaths by 50,000.

The Florida legislature is now trying to raise the minimum age with hopes of seeing those results.

House Bill 7065 makes changes to the state’s one-way attorney fees provision when dealing with lawsuits between contractors and property insurance companies.

When Florida is hit by a hurricane, utility companies must go in and help recover immediately. They pay for the cost up front and later charge customers to recoup their losses. A senate bill aims to lower both the price tag and time of recovery by forcing utility companies to strengthen their infrastructure before a storm.

During week six of the 2019 legislative session, the House passed a bill that would address an assignment of benefits issue that has plagued Florida’s insurance industry for years. But as a change was made that some say may cause more abuse of the system.

A bill filed last week would set a limit on the amount of THC that can be dispensed to 10%. The bill also allows military veterans to waive their yearly $75-dollar Medical Marijuana Card fee. Opponents don’t like the first portion and think tying it to the veterans’ fee waiver is bad policy. I spoke with Dr. Mark Moore a certified medical cannabis physician with MEDCAN about his thoughts.

Several bills were passed by the legislature today and will end up on the governor’s desk soon. One measure that looks to protect police animals.

For years now some members of the legislature have been pushing to create a way to help firefighters battling cancer. Studies show they are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, because of their line of work. This year the effort has overwhelming support in the Senate but hasn’t been heard in a house committee yet.

Last month Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allowed medical marijuana flower to be sold in Florida. Now a sponsor of that bill is trying to cap the potency levels of marijuana sold at treatment centers, and also waive license fees for veterans. Opponents say it’s a double-edged sword. 

More than a year after the Parkland school massacre, a comprehensive response on how to best prevent a future tragedy remains a work in progress. For many the question boils down to this: Are parents comfortable with placing their children’s safety in the hands of an armed teacher who has eight hours of active shooter training?

When amendments are made to the constitution sometimes they need legislation to be passed that would implement the change. Well this year lawmakers are doing that with 2018’s Amendment 4 which allows certain felons the right to vote after completing their sentence. There’s debate over whether implementing legislation is needed and WFSU’s Blaise Gainey reports both sides clashed during Thursday’s bill hearing.

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