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.

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.

Florida parents could see cheaper diapers through legislation being considered by lawmakers. The measure by Sen. Lauren Book, D-Plantation, exempts diapers and incontinence products from sales tax.

Torrie Jasuwan, founder of BabyCycle Diaper Bank in Saint Petersburg, said one in three Florida moms can’t afford diapers. She says not having clean diapers can result in staph and urinary tract infections.

As part of assembling Florida’s budget for the next year, legislators are pushing local pet projects. But there’s a new vetting process for House lawmakers this year intended to add more transparency.

The Florida House is moving forward with a plan to pull out of the refugee resettlement program.

Florida could see the position of Secretary of State turn from an appointed position to an elected one. A Fernandina Beach lawmaker filed legislation filed this session to do just that.

A Florida Republican lawmaker wants to create more incentives for people who get welfare to look for work. The legislation passed a House committee Thursday.

Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier said insurance companies shouldn’t have to pay attorney fees when contractors sue them over property damage claims. He warned lawmakers this week that if the state doesn’t change its insurance rules, insurance companies will leave the market or raise rates.

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