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.

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? 

Florida Matters: Cancer Town Hall

Mar 30, 2015
Steve Newborn / WUSF

On April 5, WUSF-TV will air the first part of the new Ken Burns’ documentary “Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies.”  

Steve Newborn / WUSF News

Nearly 1,000 miles in 70 days -- that's how long a trio of wildlife enthusiasts are traversing the state, from Central Florida to the Alabama state line. 

Florida lawmakers have officially started the 2015 legislative session. The one item they have to do is pass a state budget -- and this year they have a $1 billion surplus, a growing state economy and a governor fresh off a re-election win.

Each spring for 60 days the Florida Legislature tackles a year's worth of state business. On the agenda this law-writing session are reforms to public-education testing, hundreds of millions of dollars of mandated spending on the environment and billions of dollars in federal money for health care.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

    

This week on Florida Matters, we are taking a look at some of the issues lawmakers are expected to take up during the upcoming 60-day session.

Florida Matters: Energy in Florida

Feb 17, 2015
Associated Press

 This week on Florida Matters, we're continuing our preview of the upcoming Florida Legislative session. State lawmakers have filed a half-dozen bills dealing with how your power company operates in Florida.  What are the chances that changes are on the way?  Our panel includes Tampa Bay Times reporter Ivan Penn  and state Rep. Amanda Murphy, D-New Port Richey.

Florida Matters: Amendment One

Feb 10, 2015
Robin Sussingham

Back in November, voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment One, which sets aside millions of dollars for land and water conservation.

This week on Florida Matters, we'll take a look at where exactly that money might go.

Central Florida Behavioral Health Network, Inc.

Florida ranks at or near the bottom when it comes to per capita funding for mental health services in the U.S. 

This week on Florida Matters, we'll take a look at just how that's playing out in Florida, along with the push for more funding -- and smarter spending -- for those services.

Law enforcement officials say that by the time a person reaches to the criminal justice system, the situation is at a crisis-level. Agencies that work with mental health patients say they serve thousands each year, but they are seeing just the tip of the iceberg.  

Florida Matters: Same-Sex Marriage in FL

Jan 27, 2015
Robin Sussingham / WUSF News

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Florida since Jan. 6, 2015. The issue is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, but in the meantime, marriage licenses are being issued to same-sex couples.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

When the famous and infamous Gasparilla Parade of the Pirates invades Tampa on Saturday, Jan. 31, it will be the 100th such procession along Bayshore Boulevard and the streets of downtown Tampa.

On Florida Matters Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., we take a look at this year's invasion, and the history of this curious event. Our guests are Sgt. Jarrett Seal of the Tampa Police Department, and Shamus Warren, a pirate with Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla.

Lucielle Salomon / WUSF

For years, claims of abuse, beatings, rapes and murder of students by staff have come from those who survived the Dozier School for Boys,  the now-closed state-run reform school in the Florida Panhandle.

Many families are still wondering what happened to their loved ones, and some are getting answers as researchers from the University of South Florida identify remains that have been exhumed from the grounds of Dozier.

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