Jim Ash

Jim Ash is a reporter at WFSU-FM.  A Miami native, he is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print.  He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.

Ash has worked variously as a reporter, columnist and bureau chief.  His specialties include state politics, the judicial system and the environment.  His career has included coverage of everything from the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and Hurricane Andrew to the Florida presidential recount.

Ash is a graduate of the University of Iowa where he earned a degree in English.  He spent his summers interning for newspapers, including the Austin-American Statesman in Texas.

A hiking enthusiast, Ash has explored most of the public trails in California's Big Sur.  He is an avid reader who enjoys traveling, exploring the Big Bend, and water sports.

It’s the gold standard for every conservative – a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Jeffrey Utsch, executive vice president of the ultra-conservative Compact for America, preaches it in a video on his group’s website:

Call it the “CC” word. The allegations have been floating around the Capitol for weeks – Governor Rick Scott has a gag order on members of his administration – use any words or phrases related to climate change and you’re history.

A Florida State University expert says statistics are on the side of Republican lawmakers who want to allow concealed weapons on campus.

Most people don’t think about the septic tank until it needs to be pumped out. And even then, most people don’t care where the stuff goes when the smelly truck pulls away. But as Jim Ash reports, some lawmakers are looking at the final destination closely and environmentalists are concerned.

Florida Senate

Florida has dodged a bullet in recent years when it comes to hurricanes, but that hasn’t stopped gun-loving conservatives from looking ahead to the next emergency. A Senate committee Thursday approved a measure giving evacuees the right to bear arms.

Temperatures and tempers soaring, some residents snapped after Hurricane Andrew leveled South Miami in August, 1992. Fights broke out in long lines for ice. There was looting.

Is that the right atmosphere to encourage survivors to haul out their guns?

Lawmakers moved a step closer Wednesday to dividing up more than $750 million to meet the conservation demands of Amendment 1. The House and Senate are on a collision course over affordable housing and its piece of the pie.

Fallout from the appointment of Florida State University President John Thrasher continued Tuesday as a House panel voted to take the academic recruiting process behind closed doors.

Angry students and a grieving parent unloaded Monday on Florida lawmakers who want to make it legal to carry concealed weapons on college campuses. The father of a 20-year-old University of California shooting victim warned more students would die.

With the ink barely dry on its water policy legislation, the Florida House is already mapping out a new plan for land conservation. Republican leaders began focusing Friday on Amendment 1 and how it fits in to managing millions of wilderness acres.

Just three days after the start of the session, the House approved a massive plan to rewrite state water policy, setting the stage for weeks of negotiations with the Senate. As Jim Ash reports, the legislation emphasizes the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee and natural springs.

State workers could get between $5,000 and $10,000 for adopting children under a bill that passed a House panel Tuesday. Lawmakers also want scorecards for adoption providers.

The state could grow an even faster under a bill filed by a Southwest Florida lawmaker. Legislation by a Senate Republican would allow developers to cut through government red tape.

A bill by Senator Wilton Simpson of Brooksville would allow more builders to expedite their projects by avoiding a government approval process called developments of regional impact, or DRIs. It would boost economic development, but environmentalists like 1,000 Friends of Florida’s Charles Pattison have big concerns.

A disease known as citrus greening continues to devastate Florida’s iconic crop. An expert warns time is running out for the state’s growers.

Harold Browning, chief operations officer of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation, says scientists are making progress to slow the disease, but it may not be fast enough.

“Without some interventions to slow the decline of these trees to allow for the replanting of citrus, we’re not going to retain the citrus industry as we know it.”

www.colorbox.com

Imagine an extra hour of soccer practice. A longer day at the beach.  More sunshine to hustle tourists through Disney World.

That’s the goal of Sen. Darren Soto, a Democrat from Kissimmee. Soto filed his perennial bill Thursday to make Florida the only state to observe daylight saving time permanently.

“Can you imagine the marketing campaign of, ‘come down to Florida, now with an hour of more sunshine?’”

Soto’s failed to sell the idea before and he would be surprised if it passes this year. His goal is next year, after it gains steam.

EPA Dumps Dispersant Rules After 14 Years

Jan 16, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is releasing its newest plan for regulating dispersants, the chemicals used to combat oil spills.  Despite years of delay, the move is being heralded by environmentalists.

Five years ago, when the Deepwater Horizon rig blew out in the Gulf of Mexico, company officials poured nearly 2 million gallons of dispersant onto the slick. Critics called the move a crap shoot at best. Existing regulations weren’t strong enough to determine whether the chemicals were dangerous or if they would work, says Earth Justice Attorney David Guest.

Floridians for Solar Choice draws its power from the farthest ends of the political spectrum. Environmentalists, Christian conservatives, Tea Party activists and business groups. The coalition stands united in a common, free-market goal – deregulating solar power.

Coalition Chairman Tory Perfetti.

“This is something that many individuals, right, left and business, have argued for, for many, many years.”

It’s illegal in Florida to sell solar power, unless you’re a utility.

Florida State University President John Thrasher said Monday that campus shooting victim Farhan “Ronny” Ahmed should be ready to return to classes in February or early March.

Administrators are doing everything they can to ease his transition, Thrasher told the FSU board of trustees on Monday.

“We’re working on ways in which we can accommodate him in terms of his transportation, in terms of his place to stay on campus, doing something for his mother who plans to be here with him for a while and certainly some other things involving fundraising,” Thrasher said.

FSU Counters Bad Ink

Jan 12, 2015

Florida State University officials say they’re pushing back against recent bashing in the national media. Top administrators are developing a strategic marketing campaign to polish the school’s image.

Board of Trustees Chairman Allan Bense said he’s ready to send fellow trustees, armed with positive talking points, on speaking tours to spread the good news.

“I think it’s time for us to tell the world about how great FSU is. We’ve taken a few shots. I get it. I understand that," Bense said.

A legislative scramble to carve up some $700 million dollars tied to Amendment 1 has begun. Months before the start of the annual session, a Senate committee on Wednesday began debating how to spend money generated by a wildly popular voter mandate to protect the environment, Jim Ash reports.

It was standing room only for the first discussion of Amendment 1 by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee. Chairman Charlie Dean, a Republican from Inverness, says there’s no shortage of suggestions about where the money should go.                           

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