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Jessica Palombo

Phone: (850) 487-3086  x364

Jessica Palombo got her master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism from the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. While interning at WAER News in Syracuse, she was awarded the Syracuse Press Club’s top prize for a radio feature story produced by a student. She interned at WAMU News and NPR's "Weekends at All Things Considered," both in Washington, D.C., before moving back to her home state of Florida. She then freelanced at WJCT News in Jacksonville before joining the staff of WFSU News full time. Before getting into radio, she was an editor, reporter and essayist for The Gainesville Sun, Skirt! Magazine and Jacksonville Magazine. When she's not reporting, Jessica enjoys acting in plays and films, cooking vegan food and discovering new music.  Follow Jessica Palombo on Twitter: @JessicaPubRadio.

The Florida Legislature has voted to ban abortions if fetuses are shown to be able to live outside the womb on their own.

Before Friday’s Senate vote, Sen. Gwen Margolis (D-Miami) introduced an amendment banning vasectomies for men. Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) said Margolis wanted to show the male-dominated Senate what it’s like to have reproductive decisions made for you.

A passionately, tearfully debated bill legalizing non-smoked medical marijuana is headed to the Florida House floor after passing its final committee today. But some who voted for the measure warned they could not continue supporting it in its current form.

During Monday’s debate, several legislators acknowledged they’re part of a national sea change on the issue of medical marijuana.

Rep. Elaine Schwartz (D-Hollywood) brought up today’s “Diane Rehm Show” discussion of America’s attitude shift toward marijuana.

Although Florida lawmakers filed more than 1,800 bills this year, most measures were not destined to become laws. Some were too controversial in an election year. Some died alone with no companion measure in the other chamber. And some bill sponsors simply lost the race against time.

One bill that some say would preempt local rules has anti-tobacco groups demanding it to be killed. The health advocates say the measure banning the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors also undoes local restrictions in more than 50 cities and counties.

The full Florida House is set to vote on a bill that's pitted Florida taxi cab operators against car-service tech company Uber. The measure narrowly passed its final committee today after its sponsor narrowed it to apply only in Tampa instead of statewide.

A bill significantly expanding Florida’s school voucher program is headed for the House floor, even though a similar proposal was withdrawn from the Senate, leading many to believe the issue was dead for this session. A Friday committee hearing revived a familiar—and heated—debate on education and religion.  

Republican supporters want to increase funding to the state’s corporate tax scholarship program, they say, for parents who feel public school has failed their children—parents like Tallahassee mother of five Alyson Hochstedler.

Widely loved former Florida Gov. Reubin Askew was memorialized in Tallahassee this week before he’s laid to rest Friday in his home town of Pensacola. Those whose lives Askew touched paid their respects as he lay in state at the Historic Capitol Tuesday and at a church service today.

Blaise Gainey / WFSU

On Thursday, Florida Democratic House leaders announced policy priorities they say they won’t let go of without a fight this session: increasing education funding, raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and getting more Floridians health insurance.

But Democrats likely face an uphill battle with almost twice their number of Republicans in the Legislature.

House Minority Leader Perry Thurston says Democrats want the education funding to include a new need-based component to the state’s Bright Futures college scholarship program.

He says Dems also want to continue the debate about getting more Floridians health insurance after the state chose not to take $51 billion in federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.

“Without a doubt, the Republicans are looking for a very smooth session. We think that the last thing that they want to address is the $51 billion elephant in the room," he says.

Florida Senate

A bill giving guideposts for determining whether Florida lawmakers live in their districts is headed for the full Legislature after passing its committee Wednesday. The bill gives the Senate final say when allegations arise that someone lives outside their district.

Chances are, most people hadn’t heard of compounding pharmacies until a deadly national meningitis outbreak last year was traced back to one such facility in Massachusetts. Following a federal crackdown, Florida lawmakers took steps today toward imposing additional restrictions on compounding pharmacies that ship medicine into the Sunshine State.

Businesses could see their electricity taxes cut in half under a proposal Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Adam Putnam is pushing. The commissioner’s plan would also dedicate the remaining tax revenue to education.

Gov. Rick Scott has proposed cutting vehicle registration fees as part of his election year plan to save voters $500 million in taxes. On Wednesday, Putnam offered his alternative: Slash businesses’ electricity levy by 50 percent and spend the rest of the electricity taxes on schools.

A federal judge has sided with the state and federal governments by saying Florida should set pollution standards for its waterways. Environmental groups are considering an appeal of the ruling letting Florida manage its own water.

This week’s ruling is the latest in a lawsuit the environmental groups brought six years ago saying the state didn’t comply with the federal Clean Water Act. Federal judge Robert Hinkle agreed with state and federal assertions that Florida should set its own acceptable pollution standards.

Central Florida planners are grappling with a challenge: There’s not enough water for the people expected to live in the area 20 years from now. That realization has prompted unprecedented collaboration between local governments, private utilities and state agencies as they search for more water.

A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers has filed a raft of bills for the 2014 legislative session aimed at keeping children safe from sex offenders. The bills would beef up the sentencing and monitoring of sexual predators.

Senate President Don Gaetz calls the package of bills this year’s “centerpiece” and says he looks forward to sending it to Gov. Scott early in the session. 

Sen. Rob Bradley (R-Orange Park) is sponsoring a bill that would lengthen criminal sentences and monitoring of predators.

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