Nick Evans

Nick Evans is a masters student in communications at Florida State University.  Before moving to Tallahassee, Nick lived in and around the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years.  He listens to far too many podcasts and is a die-hard 49ers football fan.  When Nick’s not at work he likes to cook, play music and read.

Nurseries hoping to grow and dispense cannabis under Florida’s low-THC marijuana law will have to wait until at least March to make their pitch to the Department of Health.  Patients will have to wait even longer—until those nurseries can deliver a product suitably low in THC.  

Department officials met with stakeholders Tuesday in Orlando.  This was the first meeting since many of the Department’s previous rules were invalidated by an administrative law judge in November. 

Capitol Police officials have taken a suspect into custody for vandalizing the Satanic Temple’s holiday display in the Capitol Rotunda.  Nick Evans has more.   

On a foggy Monday morning, the Florida Capitol is nearly inaccessible.  With many offices winding down for the holidays, stairways and entrances are blocked off for construction projects or cleaning.  But this didn’t stop a handful of Satanic Temple members from spreading their own brand of holiday cheer.

For the second year running, The Florida prayer network is installing a nativity scene in the state Capitol Rotunda.  And for the second year running there are plenty of people who are unhappy about it.

In the Capitol Monday, the Florida Prayer Network unveiled its nativity scene with something of an impromptu chapel service.  There were speeches, prayers, biblical readings and, of course, children from Tallahassee’s own Bethel Christian Academy singing Christmas carols. 

But not everyone’s happy.

“If they remove that, we would remove ours,” John Porgal says. 

Citizens insurance is touting its efforts to move policies into the private market—a process known as depopulation.  Florida’s insurer of last resort is introducing new plans to make the move more transparent.

The state-backed insurer concluded its final meeting of the year Wednesday, highlighting its ability to shift 300,000 policies to the private sector since January.  Citizens official Steve Bitar says the company is making changes to improve the depopulation process for consumers.

The tobacco company R.J. Reynolds came before the Florida Supreme Court Thursday in two back-to-back liability cases.  Even though the cases raise different questions, they both spring from a class action suit begun in mid-nineties.

The two tobacco cases stem from the so-called Engle case.   Engle started as a class action lawsuit, and the courts eventually did rule against the tobacco companies. But to award damages, the state Supreme Court decided to split the class up, leading to thousands of individual cases like the two heard Thursday. 

The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals gave Florida’s marriage equality activists a procedural win Wednesday.  A three-judge panel ruled a lower court’s order overturning the state’s same-sex marriage ban will go into effect as planned after January 5.

Over the weekend The Naples Daily News got more than 500 pages of documents relating to Florida’s redistricting scandal.  State officials had originally planned to release the documents on the first of December.  The Florida Supreme Court voted unanimously to unseal the papers earlier this month.

Florida State University students gathered for a prayer vigil Thursday morning after a gunman opened fire at the school’s main library.

A long quad called Landis Green stretches out in front of Strozier Library, the site of last night’s shooting.  On most sunny days there are groups of people walking to class or chatting on benches, but today it was a meeting place for hundreds of rattled and mourning students.  Shortly before noon, school officials turned off the fountain for a moment of silence.  Sophomore Gillian Newman says it was a moving tribute.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is appealing a ruling earlier this year that invalidated the state’s same-sex marriage bans.   

In August, a federal judge ruled Florida’s same-sex marriage prohibitions are unconstitutional, and the case now heads to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  

According to ACLU spokesman Baylor Johnson, even though the federal ban known as The Defense of Marriage Act—or DOMA—was struck down last year, state laws can get in the way of same-sex couples applying for federal benefits.

Tuesday is Veterans Day, and to celebrate, Florida state parks are waiving admission fees for everyone. 

Across Florida, state offices will be closing their doors in honor of Veterans Day, but the state’s parks will be opening their gates.  Florida Park Service Director Donald Forgione says the parks will be waiving admission fees, and he encourages residents to observe the holiday at the favorite local park.

There’s been more than a little grumbling from some quarters about Amendment Two failing to pass despite garnering support from the majority of voters.  But there are some pretty good reasons for requiring a supermajority.

Back in 2006, Florida voters passed a measure called Amendment 3.  It raised the threshold for passing ballot initiatives in all future elections from the simple majority of 50 percent-plus-one to supermajority of 60 percent.  Supporters at the time argued the ballot initiative process was being taken over by special interests. 

Last Friday, Spanish language TV station Telemundo aired the first of Florida’s gubernatorial debates.  But Telemundo chose not to include Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie. 

A Leon County circuit judge ruled Thursday the plaintiffs in Florida’s redistricting lawsuit can recover some of their legal costs, but not attorney’s fees.  The voting-rights activists are looking to a legal concept known as the “private attorney general” to make their request.

The Florida Cabinet’s clemency hearing Tuesday brought out a group called Faith in Florida.  The group’s Live Free campaign aims to restore the voting rights of former prisoners.

In the Capitol courtyard Tuesday, men and women wearing shirts or holding signs with the slogan ‘Let My People Vote’ signed their names to large cardboard letters made out to the state’s cabinet members.  The Live Free campaign’s state director Desmond Meade says helping former convicts reintegrate in society isn’t just the right thing to do – it lowers recidivism, and helps people get back to work.

The nonprofit government watchdog group Florida TaxWatch released its voter’s guide Wednesday detailing proposed state constitutional amendments. 

Unlike some other issuers of voting guides, fiscally conservative TaxWatch doesn’t take a yes-or-no stance on the initiatives.  Instead, it offers a take on the pros and cons of enacting the amendments.    

Dominic Calabro, head of the organization, says it’s important to exercise caution when changing the state constitution.

Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature has passed new congressional maps largely along party lines.    If Gov. Rick Scott approves them, the new districts will then return to the court where the originals were found unconstitutional.

In just three days, Florida’s special legislative session has come to an end. The Legislature voted Monday to revise the state’s congressional map; the new borders will change seven of the state’s districts.  Leon County circuit judge Terry Lewis ruled two of the previous districts unconstitutional. 

This week voting rights groups presented their case for redrawing Florida’s unconstitutional electoral map immediately rather than waiting until after this year’s election.  But officials charged with conducting elections are doubtful the plan could work.  

Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed four sex offender bills into law Tuesday during a public ceremony at the Capitol.  The event brought together a number of Republican lawmakers to show off the first bills passed by the Legislature.

Flanked by lawmakers, sheriffs and victims’ advocates, Scott said the package of bills will make the state safer.

Federal law bans discrimination based on pregnancy, but Florida law is less clear.  But the state Senate appears set to grant civil rights protection to pregnant Floridians.

Three Florida district court cases have wrangled with pregnancy discrimination.  In two, the courts found Florida law provides protection.  But in the most recent case, the court said pregnancy is not protected because it is not explicitly referenced in state statute.  Senator Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) says her bill puts the matter to rest by adding pregnancy to the list of protections.

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