Sarah Mueller

Sarah Mueller is the first recipient of the WFSU Media Capitol Reporting Fellowship. She’ll be covering the 2017 Florida legislative session and recently earned her master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Illinois Springfield. Sarah was part of the Illinois Statehouse press corps as an intern for NPR Illinois in 2016. When not working, she enjoys playing her yellow lab, watching documentaries and reading memoirs.

Florida’s universities say they need more money to hire additional mental health counselors and law enforcement officers. University officials said they’re seeing a dramatic rise in students needing help coping with anxiety, depression and academic stress.

The Florida House and Senate are planning big cuts to Florida hospitals and those groups say it will hurt medical care access for the poor and disabled.

Florida currently requires auto drivers to carry personal injury protection of at least $10,000 in medical benefits. But critics say that isn’t enough to cover health care costs when there’s an accident. Lawmakers are considering changing up the insurance coverage drivers must have.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum says Gov. Rick Scott should be careful asking the federal government for Medicaid block grants. The gubernatorial candidate said the city helps support local hospitals and Leon County helps fund local public health services.

Florida is asking for extraordinary power to revamp its Medicaid program. It’s prompting alarms from health advocacy organizations and policy analysts because it could cut off access to health care for millions of Floridians. They also complain it’s being done without stakeholder input.

Fewer felons are getting their voting rights restored under Governor Rick Scott than in the past two administrations. Attorney Brittnie Baker said Scott has denied her clients the right to once again vote because of traffic violations or admitting they drank or used drugs.

Senate lawmakers say Florida’s prison system is in a crisis. That’s the consensus after a presentation by Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones. She said she’s having problems recruiting guards. Jones is pushing legislators for pay bumps.

In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a measure to convert Medicaid insurance into a managed care system. But Republican lawmakers now want to take the program away from “big businesses” and change it into a block grant system. But Medicaid providers said if that happens low income families will lose access to health care.

Legislation banning sanctuary city policies is moving through Florida House committees. The proposal requires cities fully cooperate with federal immigration officers or face penalties.

Saint Petersburg Rep. Kathleen Peters has filed legislation to increase mental health treatment. It adds certain mental health and substance abuse services to the state’s Medicaid program through a safety network.

Legislation extending the Best and Brightest scholarship program for teachers and principals is on the move in the Florida House. The measure allows more educators to qualify as highly effective.

Florida families are calling on the state to fully fund mental health services. Social service agencies say the lack of funding for mental health care and substance abuse means more people incarcerated or living on the streets.

House lawmakers got an earful this week on proposed workers' compensation measures. Business groups and health care advocates complain the draft legislation doesn’t do enough to address attorney fees, premium costs, physician fees and patient choice.

Florida Supreme Court justices are considering allowing hundreds of thousands of ex-felons to vote. They heard arguments from Floridians For a Fair Democracy on a ballot initiative that would restore voting rights for residents who have completed their sentences.

Florida Republican lawmakers are pushing punitive immigrant and refugee legislation once again this session. Similar proposals died last year. But the 2016 campaign season may be stimulating an appetite for change.

Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida members are worried federal and state lawmakers will reduce health care funding for low income Floridians.

Republican state lawmakers want a say over local business regulations across the state. Legislation

preempting local power is moving through the legislature.

Top Florida Republican lawmakers are heading to Washington D.C. soon to discuss potential healthcare changes with their Congressional counterparts. They want President Donald Trump’s administration to blockgrant Medicaid funding. But some Floridians worry the sick and the poor will lose their health insurance.

At least 157,000 kids in Florida could lose food stamps under legislation moving in a Florida House committee Thursday.

Legislation by Frank White, R-Pensacola, sends Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility requirements back to pre-recession levels.

Congressman Matt Gaetz, R-FL, said he wants to turn full control of the Medicaid health insurance over to Florida and the other states. It’s part of Congress’ ongoing debate about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. But Gaetz offered few details.

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