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 Attorney General Pam Bondi has about a month to prove to a Tallahassee judge she didn’t improperly order businesses to pay millions to unregistered charities. Bondi denies any wrongdoing.

Legislation making it easier to set up new trauma centers is moving in the Florida House. The measure removing a statewide cap passed its final committee.

Florida Sen. Jack Latvala says he’s not ready to give up politics after he’s term limited in the Senate next year. But he won’t say what he’s eyeing next. Latvala spoke at the Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee.

Florida gets a lot of federal funding for refugees, including people entering the state from Cuba and Haiti. But that money could go away if legislation passes pulling the state out of the federal refugee resettlement program.

The Florida House will vote this week to establish what members call “schools of hope.” Democratic lawmakers say Republicans want to spend more than a billion dollars over several years on charter schools while starving public schools of funding. But Republican lawmakers and charter advocates argue public schools are failing to educate students.

While a raft of immigration legislation is moving through the Florida House, similar proposals in the Senate appear to be on the back burner.

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is praising the state’s Supreme Court after it formally barred retired judges from weighing in on cases after new justices are appointed.

Legislators and community college presidents are pleading with leaders in the Florida House and Senate to spare community colleges from budget cuts. The House and Senate have very different budget proposals. But college presidents said they don’t like either one.

Panama City State Representative Jay Trumball’s legislation makes it easier to set up more trauma centers in the state. But hospitals say it will destroy the quality of care patients get. Doctors took to the Capitol Tuesday to oppose the measure.

Legislation by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, is moving from the Senate to the U.S.House. It requires backup jets to be available to gather hurricane atmospheric information.

Death penalty opponents rallied at Florida’s Capitol in support of Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala. Republican lawmakers are considering cutting her office’s budget due to her refusal to seek the death penalty in capital cases. But Ayala said a budget cut would hurt her office’s ability to prosecute crimes.

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.

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