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Florida Matters

Florida Matters tackles tough issues, highlights little-known stories from our part of the world, and provides a greater perspective of what it means to live in the Sunshine State. Join us each week as we journey across the state to explore the issues important to Floridians and cover the challenges facing our community and our state.

Human trafficking is the topic of a special Florida Matters show scheduled to air Tuesday, Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m. and again Sunday, Aug. 31 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.  A panel discussion on the issue was recorded Wednesday at Tampa's Centre Club, sponsored by the Florida Medical Clinic Foundation of Caring.

Gun Questions: Free Speech or Intrusion?

Aug 14, 2014

A federal appeals court recently upheld a Florida law that limits what doctors can tell their patients about gun ownership.

Doctors claim that it’s their First Amendment right to ask any question they want of their patients including questions about guns. The backers of this law say keeping records on whether they have guns in their homes violates their Second Amendment rights.

FEMA

On Friday, Aug. 13, 2004, while many in the Tampa Bay area braced for what they thought may be a direct hit, the Category 4 Hurricane Charley took a right turn into Charlotte County and Punta Gorda. A decade later, we go back to just hours after that devastating blow, when it was a tense time in that small community of mostly senior citizens nestled between Sarasota and Ft. Myers. We also revisit the quaint DeSoto County town of Arcadia, where sustained winds of a hundred miles an hour ripped down walls and roofs from its historic main street.

Here's an impressive stat: six of the 10 most costly hurricanes in U.S. history hit Florida during 2004 and 2005. Insurance companies took a big hit financially  and, as you'd expect, our property insurance coverage got more expensive. But the state saw its last hurricane nine years ago. So why are we still paying such high rates?

Florida Matters: Sexual Assaults on College Campuses (LISTEN)

Jul 30, 2014
Lottie Watts / WUSF

 A report from the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault says universities are not providing all the resources they can to protect students from sexual violence. Dozens of schools are under investigation for how they have handled sexual assault cases. 

Sexual Assaults on College Campuses Targeted

Jul 28, 2014
Courtesy U.S. Navy

A White House Task Force report says universities are not providing all the resources they can to protect students from sexual violence.

We will have a panel discussion about sexual assaults on college campuses tonight on Florida Matters.

WUSF intern Lucielle Salomon explains what happens when a sexual assault is reported at the University of South Florida Tampa campus.

Tampa's cruise industry could be heading into rough waters. Cruise ships are getting bigger, but the Sunshine Skyway Bridge isn't. A new study by the Florida Department of Transportation looks at three options: build a taller bridge, build a new cruise facility west of the Skyway, or do nothing.

We discuss these options, and hear the opinions of passengers just returning from a seven-day cruise aboard the Carnival Legend at Cruise Terminal #2 at Tampa's Channelside.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF

Early Sunday morning, before the 2,000 passengers from cruise ship disembark, a line of taxi cabs forms outside Port of Tampa Bay Terminal #2 just beyond idling tour buses.

That’s where cab driver John Bailey stood waiting for fares.  He’s fully aware of the cruise ship debate and the options explored in a recent study.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

The U.S.

Robin Sussingham

All over Florida, laws are changing to make it easier for suburban homeowners to do a little farming. It's becoming more and more common to have a neighbor who's growing his own organic vegetables, collecting eggs from his own chickens, or even raising bees for their honey.

We will take an in-depth look at the increasing popularity of backyard agriculture this week on Florida Matters on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 19 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Tampa Ranked Among Best 'Staycations'

Jun 17, 2014
FMOPA

Three central Florida cities have been ranked among the best places in the country to staycation.

Tampa ranked eighth overall and Orlando was ninth in WalletHub.com's 2014 list of the 100 Best and Worst Cities to Staycation. Other Florida cities included on the list are St. Petersburg (No. 11), Miami (No. 63), Jacksonville (No. 75) and Hialeah (No. 85).

Storm Prep Critical for Medically Needy

Jun 12, 2014

When a hurricane is approaching, everyone needs to have a plan in place. When you have medical needs, that preparation becomes even more critical.

Dr. Theo Sai is the chief medical officer for senior products for Humana in Central Florida.  He's also lived through several hurricanes.  

“I remember the worst one for me was in the Bahamas, where I was on the first floor and it was a pretty bad hurricane, and Nassau typically floods a lot,” Said said.

When he offers advice on preparing for hurricanes, it comes from his own experience.

Mary Shedden / WUSF 89.7 News

Most of us ponder evacuating when a hurricane approaches.

But at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base, Jim McFadden sends an "Orion P-3" propeller plane and its crew straight into a storm's path.  The Chief of Programs and Projects for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aircraft Operations Center, McFadden is a veteran of more than 500 such flights.

At a recent hurricane awareness event at Tampa International Airport, he showed WUSF’s Mary Shedden and members of the public around the aircraft nicknamed "Miss Piggy."

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

This Friday will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the historic military landing at Normandy during World War II. 

This week on Florida Matters, we'll take a look at D-Day through the eyes of a C-47 pilot who was there.  First Lt. Gerald “Bud” Berry was among those who flew paratroopers behind enemy lines in the hours before the beach invasion. 

Steve Newborn / WUSF

It's been said that in Florida, any building that's more than 30 years old is well, old, and worthy of being torn down for something new and shiny. That mindset has changed somewhat in recent years, and we take a tour of one historic neighborhood that's coming back to life.
 

A handful of architects and preservationists took a break from the recent Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Conference to take a bus ride around Tampa Heights and Ybor City.

State lawmakers ended this year's 60-day legislative session by passing a record $77.1 billion budget, along with laws that deal with everything from immigrant tuition to medical marijuana.

We take a look at what lawmakers did and did not do on Florida Matters tonight at 6:30 p.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM. 

Our panel includes state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, state Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa, and senior political reporter William March of The Tampa Tribune.

SunRail Challenge: Changing the Psychology of Commuters

May 6, 2014
Carmel Delshad / WMFE

This November, voters in Pinellas County will decide whether or not to raise the county's sales tax to 8 percent -- the highest in the state -- to fund Greenlight Pinellas.  That's the transit plan that would expand bus service and help build a light rail connecting Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

The Suncoast Tiger Bay Club recently hosted a debate over the transit plan, and we'll take you there on Florida Matters Tuesday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 11 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM.

Transit is changing in other parts of Florida, and we take a look at the first phase of SunRail, which opened this month in Orlando. 


Lottie Watts / WUSF

Florida Matters host Carson Cooper literally took your questions with him when he sat down this morning with St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at City Hall to talk about the mayor's first 100 days in office.

For an upcoming Florida Matters, we gathered your questions and comments for the mayor, loaded the audio files on a laptop and played them for the mayor during the interview. 

How Tampa Landed the Bollywood Oscars

Apr 8, 2014
Steve Newborn / WUSF

The International Indian Film Academy's 15th annual awards takes place April 24-26 at various spots around the Tampa Bay area.

The event is held in a different country each year, and this is the first time the Bollywood Oscars will be held in the United States. It's expected to draw 800 million TV viewers from around the world.

It has been about 100 days since Rick Kriseman was sworn in as mayor of St. Petersburg.   For an upcoming Florida Matters, we will sit down with the mayor to talk about his first few months in office.   We want to know what questions you think we should ask. Post a comment, send an email to FloridaMatters@wusf.org or call and leave us a voicemail  at 813-974-8652.  

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