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

Florida’s elections once again made headlines last year amid several hotly-contested races. Now the state house and senate are pushing bills to change the process for the future.

While low-THC cannabis or hemp is available in stores, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says it’s not legal …. Yet. Legislation proposed in both Chambers would change that. Tuesday the House bill passed its second committee.

In 2017 the legislature decided to give greater incentives to charter schools to serve students in low-performing traditional schools. Today an attempt to expand where the schools of hope could open up was approved in the House.

Legislators want to close a loophole they say bad actors are exploiting, ultimately leading to insurance rates increasing across the state. A bill heading to the House floor would address the issue. Lawmakers and the Chief Financial Officer of Florida are both focused on stopping the so-called bad actors.

Over the years DNA testing companies have been becoming more and more popular. FamilyTreeDNA, offers its customers a chance to discover their heritage, and possibly find living relatives after taking a DNA test. But without consent from each client the company shared genetic data with the FBI, and other DNA Testing companies have done similar things with pharmaceutical companies. Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis thinks that’s wrong and that DNA should be treated like a medical record. He spoke WFSUs Blaise Gainey about the why it’s wrong and what the state is doing to stop it.

The House Appropriations committee moved forward with their budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. But, Rep. Kionne McGhee (D-Cutler Bay) doesn’t think North Florida is being treated fairly when it comes to Hurricane Recovery.

In Florida a court can sentence a person under the age of 21 as a youthful offender. If a court does so that person can only receive a maximum sentence of six years. But the court process can take time. Public Defender Carey Haughwout says a bill moving through the legislature makes sure people aren't penalized by the delay.

In November, voters in Florida restored voting rights for felons who have completed their sentence and did not commit a murder or sexual offense should be restored. Now, four weeks into session lawmakers are trying to pass legislation that is meant to help execute what the voters asked for. Reggie Garcia, a clemency lawyer sat down to explain exactly what voters approved.

In November, voters agreed to change The Florida Constitution to ban fracking. A bill moving through the legislature sort of implements that.

Lawmakers in the Senate today passed a bill that would implement Amendment 4, which allows certain felons to vote. But as Blaise Gainey reports proponents of the amendment say it’s self-enacting and the bill passed today isn’t needed and may not meet constitutional muster.

For years the Florida legislature has funded Visit Florida – a group charged with advertising and marketing tourism for the state. It works overseas, and around the country and also keeps track of the state’s tourism number. Now the agency is set to dissolve in October unless the legislature decides to keep it going.

But both chambers are at odds on whether it’s needed.

Just over a year since the Parkland school massacre, a comprehensive response on how to best prevent a future tragedy remains a work in progress, at least in the Florida Legislature. Before a key committee Thursday, the question boiled down to this: would parents be comfortable with placing their children’s safety in the hands of an armed teacher with eight hours of active shooter training? Although some insisted the answer to that question would most likely be “No!”, lawmakers kept moving in that direction.

One bill could cost stubborn city and county governments more money if they don’t follow state rules.

A House proposal would fine local governments and law enforcement agencies for not cooperating with federal immigration enforcement. Immigrant advocates say the bill is overbearing and goes too far.

Florida lawmakers want to create a task force to crackdown on the state’s opioid epidemic.

Public commenters gave lawmakers an earful today when the implementing bill for 2018’s Amendment 4 came up in a House committee meeting. The amendment allows certain felons to vote. But that raises the question which felons can’t vote?

Tonight on the steps of the Historic Capitol, a group of Florida State University students and the Islamic Center of Tallahassee are holding a solidarity event and vigil for the 50 victims of the Christchurch Massacre.

Governor Ron DeSantis has been adamant about wanting to import medications, to bring down prescription costs. But others aren’t on the same page.

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried wants the legislature to provide 77 full time employees to help process background checks for gun licensing.

Lawmakers have been voting on bills, and we’ve been following them closely. But Thursday, during the Senate session North Florida Democratic Senator Bill Montford took a moment to talk about something that hit close to home for him.

Lawmakers want to get rid of a process that determines where facilities like hospitals and nursing homes can be built and what services can be offered. That process is called certificate of need. It was created to keep health care costs low. But lawmakers believe it no longer works.

"I do believe what we’ve seen with CON with hospitals particularly has not fulfilled its purpose and it’s time for this regulation to go," said Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers.)

Lawmakers are considering a plan to get rid of Florida’s Constitution Revision. After some say the board is out of control. Blaise Gainey reports.

State Lawmakers beat the deadline given to them by Gov. Ron DeSantis today(Wednesday) and sent him a bill that would allow patients to smoke medical marijuana.

A joint resolution that’s making its way through the House would change the way campaigns for statewide races are funded.

Lawmakers last session limited the prescription for a Schedule II opioid to a maximum 7-day supply, but one representative says they forgot something.

While most of the news about state waters has been focused on red tide, those near the Indian River Lagoon have also been dealing with brown tide, which thrives off sewage. Now as Blaise Gainey reports, lawmakers are moving forward with a plan to increase the penalties a company would have to pay for a sewage spill.

A research facility used to study hay production systems, small fruits and medical plants, among other things could receive a one-time lump sum of 1.7 million to help purchase necessary tools thanks to an appropriations bill that passed a committee today. 

Plastic surgery has become more and more common. But some don’t end up going as planned. Sometimes it can result in death. Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) presented a bill she believes will save lives.

On average, Policyholders with the state-backed insurer Citizens Property Insurance could see an 8.2 percent rate hike. Blaise Gainey reports the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation will review the proposal Thursday.

The fight for 15 just got a lot stronger after a proposed amendment was sent to the Supreme Court for review. The proposal would raise the states’ minimum wage to $15 in 2026.

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