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.

Under a new proposal, texting drivers could be hit with a felony if they’re involved in a fatal crash.  But the newest texting while driving bill is meeting some resistance in the statehouse.

It’s already illegal to text while driving in Florida, but Rep. Irv Slosberg (D-Delray Beach) thinks ratcheting up penalties will be a more effective deterrent.  But Matt Willard from the Florida association of criminal defense attorneys says current law is broad enough to cover texting.

Plans are taking shape in the agency tasked with pitching Florida to newly discharged veterans.  Florida is For Veterans held its second strategy meeting Monday in Tallahassee.

Florida House and Senate subcommittees heard testimony Wednesday from stakeholders in the state’s beer industry.  After failing twice, a bill to legalize a popular refillable bottle is up for a third try.

It seems there’s new trouble brewing for Florida’s small but growing craft beer industry.  The Florida Retail Federation is challenging a long-standing exception to the state’s licensing rules that allows a brewery to sell beer in on-site ‘tasting’ or ‘tap’ rooms.  But this isn’t the only attack the state’s rules have drawn.

Beer is bipartisan.  Really, it’s hard to imagine something more people can agree on.  But, unfortunately in Florida, beer is a political issue.

Beer distribution interests in Florida have launched a legal attack against a well-established exception to the state’s three-tier system.  The ‘Tourism Exception’ allows brewers licensed for manufacturing beer to sell it directly to the public. 

The organization pushing for medical marijuana in Florida got a new ballot initiative approved by the Secretary of State Friday.  United for Care believes their new proposal will succeed where last year’s Amendment Two failed.

Florida’s Senate Democrats will face strong opposition in the coming session.  The caucus met Wednesday to discuss how best to organize their legislative efforts in the coming year.

After a 2014 session in which Democratic projects were often met with apathy if not outright hostility, the minority party returns to the capitol with many of the same concerns.  But Senate Minority leader Arthenia Joyner struck an optimistic tone Wednesday at the first of her party’s caucus meetings.

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.