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.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

In 2013, Florida had more new cases of HIV than anywhere else in the nation. When it comes to the presence of HIV in Florida, the state’s six largest metropolitan areas could be states unto themselves.

You can join us and be a part of our audience for a special Florida Matters town hall on the rising tide of HIV infection in Florida. 

Preparing For Tropical Storms & Hurricanes

Aug 28, 2015
NOAA.gov

We take a look at how you can prepare if any storms do come our way.

William Garamella

Of the 1,100 acres that make up Fort De Soto County Park, the beaches probably get the most traffic. Both are close to grassy picnic areas under shade trees.  

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Big changes are coming to Tampa International Airport, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 23 at 7:30 a.m.), we’re bringing you a special newsmaker edition of the show with airport CEO Joe Lopano.

One of our burning questions: Is it TPA – or TIA? According to Lopano, it’s both.

Florida Matters: Arts In Manatee County

Aug 11, 2015
Village of the Arts

Sarasota is known around the world for its arts scene. Can Bradenton and Manatee County become a destination for the arts? 

AP

Florida's citrus industry is hurting in a big way.  The final report of the growing season by the U.S. Department of Agriculture put Florida orange production for the 2014-15 season at 96.7 million boxes, a drop of 4 percent from last year.

M.S. Butler

When it comes to children, the definition of homeless includes more children than you may think.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act children and youth who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless." That means children who are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds -- or doubled-up with relatives or friends  --are homeless, as well as those who stay in shelters, on the street or in abandoned buildings.

Florida Matters: Hunting Black Bears

Jul 21, 2015

Back in June, state officials decided to allow bear hunting in Florida for the first time in 20 years. The season will open on Oct. 24, and could last for up to a week. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the hunt is part of its comprehensive bear management plan, and will be open in four of the seven “Bear Management Units.”

Robin Sussingham / WUSF News

Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Florida since Jan. 6, 2015. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide. What are the impacts of this ruling on Florida’s same-sex couples? And what questions are they asking as they consider tying the knot?

Jeff Houck / Locale Market

Canned tuna, boxed apple juice, peanut butter crackers. What’s in your hurricane supply of non-perishable food?

Emergency response experts suggest that families have food and water to last from three to seven days.

But who wants to eat seven days of canned chili?

Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

Business owners normally have enough to worry about with day-to-day concerns, but that worry is compounded when your business is located just a few hundred feet from the Gulf of Mexico, with the possibility one day of being the target of an incoming hurricane.

Larry Garrison owns the "Island Shop," a surf shop located in the small Pinellas County town of Indian Rocks Beach, one of the county's barrier islands. He's had the shop for 8 years, not long enough to have had to evacuate for a storm, even though he knows what he'll do if one comes.

Florida Matters: Cuba's Manatees

Jun 12, 2015
Steve Newborn / WUSF News

To most Floridians, manatees are cute, docile creatures that hang out in crowded springs, and often get too close to boats -- or rather, boats get too close to them. But down on the other side of the Florida Straits, they sometimes end up on someone's dinner table.

WUSF's Steve Newborn recently tagged along with Dr. James “Buddy” Powell of Sea to Shore Alliance -- a Sarasota-based conservation group -- on an expedition to Cuba to find out how manatees are doing in the waters off the island.

Daylina Miller / WUSF

The next White House Conference on Aging - which is aimed at finding new ways to improve the lives of older Americans - will take place July 13 in Washington, D.C. 

Florida Matters: Remembering D-Day

May 26, 2015
Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News

June 6, 2015 will mark the 71st anniversary of D-Day, the historic military landing at Normandy during World War II. 

This week on Florida Matters, we 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. 

The Associated Press

 Lawmakers are heading back to Tallahassee on June 1 for a three-week special session.

The Florida Legislature was unable to agree on a single balanced budget during the regular session, which the House sent screeching to a halt three days early.

The divide between the two chambers was sparked by the likely loss of more than $1 billion in federal Low Income Pool money for hospitals that is to set to expire June 30.

Florida Matters: Enchanted Earth

May 12, 2015
Jim Webb

The Tampa Theatre recently hosted "Enchanted Earth: An Evening with Syliva Earle and Meg Lowman." The conversation with two of America’s most beloved explorers and conservationists was moderated by  was moderated by WUSF's Susan Giles Wantuck.

It was Friday, May 9, 1980 at 7:33 a.m. when the freighter Summit Venture rammed into the Sunshine Skyway Bridge during a severe storm.  The roadway above crashed into the waters of Tampa Bay. Though the blinding rain, drivers in the southbound lanes were unable to see the missing roadway ahead.  Six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound Bus plunged into the waters below, and 35 people were killed.

Doug Parton / DP Photography

 The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments April 28 on the issue of same-sex marriage.  

Several cases from Cases from Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan and Kentucky have been combined into one case, known as Obergefell v. Hodges.

Florida Matters: Cuba Forum

Apr 8, 2015
AP

In Florida and in Tampa Bay, ties to Cuba run very deep. In March, federal officials participated in a forum with community leaders in Tampa to discuss what may lie ahead, as some restrictions on travel and trade have been eased under changes announced earlier this year by the Obama administration.

Some Tampa Bay area business leaders have wanted better relations with Cuba for years. What lies ahead as relations between Cuba and the United States are changing? 

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