Gina Jordan

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

The Republican–controlled Legislature will be tasked with an unexpected job: deciding whether to allocate funds for environmental causes championed by the governor.

The environment wasn’t a priority under former Governor Rick Scott. Florida’s new governor, Ron DeSantis, is taking a different approach - and raising eyebrows - as he seeks massive dollars to clean up the state’s water ways.

Now it's up to the Legislature to consider his funding request.

Update:  

The Leon County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday evening to approve a new contract for instructional staff.

"For one thing, I'm very happy we're putting money in the base salary. That's where the money needs to go," said board chair Rosanne Wood after the vote. "I wish for the future that we could talk the legislature into letting us take the money that they give us for bonuses and put it in the base salary because a teacher cannot get a mortgage for their house based on a bonus."

The Leon Classroom Teachers Association reports that 95 percent of the teachers who voted approved the contract.

Original story:

Leon County teachers are voting today on a new contract, and the Leon County School Board will vote at its meeting this evening at 6. 

Leon Classroom Teachers Association president Scott Mazur says the sides have reached a tentative agreement on a salary increase.

Florida was among the first states to pass mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws in 1979.

The Legislature loosened those requirements in 1993, then reinstated them six years later.  Now, a sweeping proposal of criminal justice reforms in Tallahassee would again make changes.

The Tallahassee city commission has decided to scrap two plans: one to develop more parking in Midtown, and another that called for the building of a new headquarters for the Tallahassee Police Department on the Southside.

The Tallahassee city commission wants the city to be on 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. The goals are outlined in a resolution adopted by commissioners during their Wednesday meeting.

The Florida Supreme Court has reversed course on a case regarding a minimum wage ordinance in Miami Beach.

Last year, the high court agreed to consider whether the city should be allowed to set its own minimum wage. Now, with three new justices on the bench, the court has decided not to hear the case. That means the lower court ruling against the city stands.

Lawmakers are being asked to consider two competing proposals surrounding access to dental care. One would allow mid-level practitioners to be licensed, while the other would provide incentives to would-be dentists.

A coalition called Floridians for Dental Access wants the Florida Legislature to allow licenses for dental therapists.

Therapists have more training than a dental hygienist and less training than a dentist. They can perform services like filling cavities and pulling teeth.

Florida’s Bright Futures scholarship program may be getting a $25-million boost. Lawmakers will consider a request next week by the Department of Education to increase funding due to higher-than-expected student participation.

The News Service of Florida reports the program got $520-million this year for merit-based scholarships to high school students who attend a Florida college or university.  

The requested increase comes as student loan debt has jumped in Florida in recent years. Orlando, Tampa, and Miami are among the top cities nationally that had the biggest jumps.

Governor-elect Ron DeSantis officially takes office on Tuesday.

The former Congressman stuck with Fox News as his media outlet of choice during the campaign, and he largely stayed quiet during the election recount.

Since then, his transition teams have been crafting policy plans.

Last week, a Florida Senate committee heard that a potential surplus of more than $220-million had likely disappeared for next year’s state budget because of Hurricane Michael.

This week, the outlook turned more positive, with analysts projecting a significant increase in state revenue over two years.

Budget analysts periodically meet inside a building next to the Capitol for what’s known as the Revenue Estimating Conference.


It’s a job seeker’s market. The tri-county region of Leon, Gadsden, and Wakulla has an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent. Help wanted signs are common, and it’s even worse for businesses that need extra help over the holidays.

CareerSource Capital Region CEO Jim McShane says his staff continues the push to match companies with workers who have the needed skills.

Weeks after Category 4 Hurricane Michael made landfall in the Panhandle, some displaced residents say FEMA has been slow to respond.

So, we asked former Florida Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon to explain the process of local, state, and government response.

Koon was a Governor Rick Scott appointee who may be best known for the controversy surrounding the Scott administration’s unofficial edict banning the term “climate change” from official communications.

Fundraising began this week for a state-sanctioned scholarship program that helps victims of bullying and other mistreatment at school.

The Hope Scholarship program for K – 12 students is part of a sweeping education law passed by the Florida Legislature last March and signed by Governor Rick Scott.

When the legislative session opened in January, House Speaker Richard Corcoran gave an impassioned speech about education.

A minimum wage case before the Florida Supreme Court will determine whether Miami Beach can move ahead with an ordinance passed by the city commission in 2016.

The issue is whether a 2003 state law stopping local governments from setting their own minimum wage supersedes a 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment.

Miami Beach city commissioners voted to phase in a higher minimum wage that would reach $13.31 an hour by 2021. That would be about $5 more an hour than the state’s minimum wage.

The City of Miami Beach is in a battle with the state that could impact hundreds of Florida municipalitiesIt’s about home rule and the city’s ability to set its own policy when it comes to wages.

Florida’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. The amount may go up each year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index.

Miami Beach leaders voted two years ago to approve a higher minimum wage than the state.

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