Gina Jordan

Gina Jordan reports from Tallahassee for WUSF and WLRN about how state policy affects your life.

As an old neighborhood in Tallahassee is being demolished to extend a new road called FAMU Way, some call the changes progress. It’s the latest effort to make improvements to a poor area of the city near the historically black Florida A&M University. Others use the word gentrification, and it’s a move we’ve seen before.

Florida is among the worst states for companies being sued, according to a new Harris Poll.

The 2019 Lawsuit Climate Survey ranks the states on how business executives feel about the fairness of state court systems – and Florida ranks 46th.

The state wants kids to understand the trouble they can get into by making school threats. So, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has launched an awareness campaign called “It’s No Joke.”

Nearly 800 Florida kids were charged with offenses related to school threats in the last fiscal year.

Analysts say chances are increasing that Florida will enter a recession soon.

“Currently, Florida’s probability of being in a recession in the next 9 months is 34.2%,” says Florida Chamber Foundation Chief Economist Jerry Parrish.

The number is from The Florida Scorecard, the chamber foundation’s online tool that identifies and tracks key metrics important to Florida’s economy.

The U.S. House passed a bill Thursday that would gradually boost the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour by the year 2025.

"We haven’t had a raise in the minimum wage in the United States for ten years now, and certainly workers all across the country and particularly in Florida deserve a raise," says Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg). He voted in favor of the bill.

Now that students have been out of school for a few weeks, the Leon County Volunteer Center is getting an uptick in inquiries from parents and teens. They’re finding a variety of opportunities for students to give their time this summer. 

Large bins line a long wall at the Second Harvest of the Big Bend’s 41,000 square foot warehouse near the Tallahassee airport.  Signs with different food categories are posted over each bin.

The Florida Supreme Court issued a surprise ruling in late May regarding expert witness testimony. 

Six years ago, the Florida Legislature adopted the Daubert standard for expert witnesses in court cases. But the state’s high court exercised its right to keep the Frye standard in place, which sets a lower threshold for what can be considered expert testimony.

The makeup of the Florida Supreme Court changed last January when three retiring justices were replaced with appointments made by Governor Ron DeSantis. The newly revamped court quickly decided to implement the tougher standards.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released its annual Legislative Report Card. The chamber says the report card helps hold state leaders accountable for how they vote on issues relating to Florida’s business climate.

The First Amendment Foundation (FAF) in Tallahassee keeps watch over policy discussions that could impede the public’s right to know about government business.

“We track all bills that affect the public’s ability to oversee government and hold it accountable," says FAF president Barbara Petersen.

The foundation tracked 111 bills this year that would create new open government exemptions or extend current exemptions. 25 of them passed.

Partners across the state are recognizing May as National Foster Care Month in Florida. The state has about 5,400 licensed foster homes, and there’s a need for more. Now, two bills relating to child welfare have passed the Florida Legislature and are headed to the governor’s desk.

"Many of you know that I served for 20 years in the United States military, and I’ve learned a thing or two about moving,” said Rep. Spencer Roach (R-North Fort Myers), telling House members about moving 13 times and being deployed to various countries.

“That was my choice, and I at least had a chance to voice my preference during the assignment process," Roach said. "That is not the case in Florida for our 24-thousand children who are languishing in Florida’s foster care system. 60 percent of those children have been in the process for 12 months or longer.”

Hurricane Michael was actually at Category 5 storm when it made landfall in Mexico Beach October 10. That's the official word today from scientists at the Natoinal Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Briney King lives in Panama city.

The legislature is working to implement a constitutional amendment that bans vaping in indoor workplaces. But another vaping proposal appears dead for this session.

A House committee this week shot down a bill that would have changed the definition of “tobacco products” to include nicotine products and devices that dispense them.

“In the last few years according to the FDA, electronic nicotine delivery systems has become an epidemic with youth," bill sponsor Rep. Mike Hill (R-Pensacola) told the committee. "One in 4 seniors in high school have been using it, and one in 10 youth in middle school have been using it.”

Governor Ron DeSantis has issued a proclamation making April Child Abuse Prevention Month. 

At a news conference at the Capitol Tuesday morning, the governor also announced the appointment of the First Lady to chair the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

Casey DeSantis says she’ll work with residents who relied on state services growing up.

A bill (HB 1335) requiring minors to get a parent’s consent for abortions passed a House committee this week. The debate was mostly civil, but some audience members had to be escorted out.

Florida law says parents have to be notified when their daughters seek abortions. Under the proposal, parents would have to give their permission.

The House Health Quality Subcommittee heard from a string of women who’ve had abortions, but who have differing opinions about the bill.

Tuesday was Coding Day at the capitol as part of an initiative to promote computer science education.

Students, some in elementary school, are lined up at computers getting ready to show off their work to state leaders.

“We need more computer scientists. We need more data scientists, and in the state of Florida alone there are 8,000 computing jobs open, not necessarily all for computer scientists," says Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Philanthropies for Microsoft. "Some of them are for individuals who might have a philosophy degree or a poetry degree and take a one-year certificate class.”

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