Jim Turner - News Service of Florida

Reporter

Jim Turner is a reporter for The News Service of Florida.

David Zalubowski / Associated Press

Shop owners in rural counties without large reported outbreaks of COVID-19 are ready to reopen under new sanitation and physical distancing guidelines, the state’s top business regulator said Friday.

BILL BORTZFIELD / WJCT NEWS

Expect “virtual” or expanded FastPass-style lines, staggered seating on rides, online food ordering and limited crowds when Florida’s major theme parks eventually reopen after being shuttered during the coronavirus pandemic.

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson
News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ push to get the state’s economy up and running from the crush of the coronavirus might require gradual steps.

A car stops to pick up reemployment forms.
Chris O'Meara / Associated Press

Just over 6 percent of people who have filed jobless claims since mid-March had received checks as of Sunday, inching up from roughly 4 percent when Gov. Ron DeSantis revamped management of the overwhelmed unemployment-compensation system last week.

Associated Press file photo

Florida’s unemployment rate jumped in March, but it still remained a sign of better times.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday defended declaring professional wrestling an essential service and raised the possibility of holding other televised sporting events in empty venues as people shelter at home amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed seven bills into law late Wednesday, including measures that will place additional restrictions on ballot initiatives and provide sales-tax “holidays” around the start of hurricane season and the upcoming school year.

An employment application form.
Mike Groll / Associated Press

Gov. Ron DeSantis is focusing on improvements being made to the state’s overwhelmed unemployment-compensation system, rather than his embattled appointee overseeing the work. Meanwhile, paper applications are being made available across the state.

I-95 traffic backup
News4Jax

Travel in and out of Florida is getting tougher on both sides of the Florida/Georgia border.

"Sorry We're Closed" sign
Michel Euler / Associated Press

Jobless claims are spiking in Florida as many vital tourism and entertainment-related businesses have closed or limited services as the state struggles to combat the novel coronavirus.

The Florida Legislature
The News Service of Florida


As Florida’s 2020 legislative session comes to a close, lawmakers can celebrate the bills they passed. But hundreds of other proposals died along the way, including a bill that would have established a state-wide office of resiliency.

Florida's Capitol buildings
The News Service of Florida

Scattered throughout a $93.2 billion budget set to go before the House and Senate on Thursday are more than 750 line items --- collectively exceeding $400 million --- tied to proposals lawmakers filed months ago to bring money to regions they represent.

Flickr Commons

Florida lawmakers will vote Thursday on a proposed state budget that includes spending $500 million to increase teacher salaries.

The Florida House is pictured in session on Feb. 20, 2020.
Steve Cannon / Associated Press

Readying for negotiations with the Senate, the Florida House approved a tax package Friday that some Democrats decried as being too focused on giving breaks to special interests.

Florida cities and counties would get letter grades for economic and non-economic factors, under a bill that drew mostly bipartisan support Tuesday from the House Appropriations Committee.

After starting a school-voucher program last year, Florida lawmakers appear ready to speed up its expansion.

Senators pressed forward Tuesday with a proposal that would provide $100 million a year for Florida Forever, as the House and Senate go into budget talks far apart on the land-buying program.

The Senate Agriculture, Environment and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee backed a proposal (SB 332) by Sen. Linda Stewart, D-Orlando, that would funnel $100 million annually to Florida Forever. The money could come from a trust fund that receives real-estate tax dollars under a 2014 constitutional amendment aimed at land and water conservation.

Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed concerns Monday about legislative proposals that would further prevent local governments from regulating short-term vacation rentals.

Local governments would be barred from licensing food truck vendors in their communities, as part of broader deregulation proposals that cleared final House and Senate committees Thursday.

The Florida House of Representatives is pictured in this Sept. 17, 2019 file photo.
Bobby Caina Calvan / Associated Press

As Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried holds out for “cooler heads” in the Senate, House Speaker José Oliva is hopeful he will gain support for his chamber’s effort to move the Office of Energy from under her watch.

Florida oranges
PepsiCo via AP Images

Travelers might again get a free cup of Florida’s homegrown beverage when they cross the state line, through funding tucked in the Senate’s proposed budget.

Rep. Holly Raschein
News Service of Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis would get more than the $625 million he requested for environmental projects, Florida Forever would see a funding cut and Visit Florida would be shuttered, under parts of a House budget proposal released Tuesday.

TIAA Bank Field
Bill Bortzfield / WJCT News

A proposal is once again in play to eliminate an untouched pool of state money set aside in 2014 to help build and renovate professional sports stadiums, including Jacksonville’s TIAA Bank Field.

“Enforcement time” has come for motorists caught texting and driving by Florida Highway Patrol troopers.

Senate President Bill Galvano defended the need for Florida to market its tourism industry against negative images of hurricanes and polluted waters, as a battle is again shaping up with House leaders over the future of Visit Florida.

Florida wildlife officials Wednesday backed a 10-year plan to manage the state’s growing black bear population, with the plan maintaining hunting as an option.

News Service of Florida

Move over Puppy Bowl, the 2020 Super Bowl has a new sideshow.

Wrapping up a long-awaited probe of the botched upgrade of the SunPass toll-collection system, the governor’s chief inspector general said more oversight is needed of state transportation contracts.

Florida will get $380.7 million from the federal government to help parts of the timber industry and farms ravaged more than a year ago by Hurricane Michael.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who captained his university’s baseball team, backed California-style legislation Thursday that would allow Florida college athletes to cash in on their names and images.

Pages