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.

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.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

For Thanksgiving  week -- Florida Matters takes a look at food, family and cooking traditions.

Reporter Bobbie O’Brien has an Irish heritage among other ancestors.

Her husband is 100 percent French Canadian. And marrying into his clan meant that she learned how to make the traditional French Canadian meat pie, tourtiere, from a family recipe that had been passed down for generations.

She makes the traditional pie for our listeners and shares a few of their family stories and recipe secrets along the way.

Florida Matters: Year 2 of Enrollment on HealthCare.gov (LISTEN)

Dec 17, 2014

It's the second year of enrollment for health insurance plans under the federal health law on HealthCare.gov, the website that Floridians, and people in dozens of other states, use to shop for health insurance.

As of Dec. 15, we have passed a key deadline, the deadline to buy a plan to have coverage that starts Jan. 1. But open enrollment runs through Feb. 15, 2015, and we have gathered a panel to talk about what consumers be doing now if they still need to get health insurance coverage to comply with the federal health law known as Obamacare.

Deadline for Jan. 1 Health Coverage Gone – Now What?

Dec 16, 2014
Lottie Watts

  

The deadline has passed to buy a health plan on HealthCare.gov for coverage that starts Jan. 1, 2015.

But open enrollment goes through Feb. 15, 2015, and this week on Florida Matters on WUSF 89.7 FM, we talk about what consumers should do if they need to buy a health plan. The show airs on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 21 at 7:30 a.m. 

M.S. Butler

It's not easy to put your finger on just one thing the Ringling is, because it's a lot of different places all sitting on 66  acres of waterfront property in Sarasota. It has enough gardens to inspire even those with the blackest of thumbs, it has a circus museum for kids and adults, a world class museum of art, and Ca' d'Zan, the winter private residence of John and Mable Ringling, which is now a historic landmark open for tours.

Lucielle Salomon / WUSF News

Florida is not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about winter sports. Now visitors and locals have a much cooler option in the Sunshine State. It may surprise you that one winter sport slid its way to Tampa with Downtown on Ice, the only outdoor ice skating rink in the Tampa Bay area.

Yoselis Ramos / WUSF Public Media

Thanksgiving at my house means waking up to Latin music blasting through the speakers as mom starts the day's cleaning and of course, the smell of the pork shoulder seasoned in adobo, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and sazón, coming from the kitchen. My grandma, Teresa Rodriguez, who has always been just "Abu" to me, starts the cooking early in the morning.

The pork shoulder sat in the oven at 350 degrees for six hours. And Abu told me, the secret to getting a crispy skin, what we call, el cuero, is done by spreading salt over the top.

Reececliff Family Diner in Lakeland has been turning out its award winning pies since the 1930s, and lots of families rely on them every year for their Thanksgiving dessert. The restaurant has been operating in the Dixieland neighborhood since 1934.

Florida Matters: Veterans Coming Home

Nov 18, 2014
Lottie Watts / WUSF

The transition from military service to civilian life can be full of challenges.

As part of our Veterans Coming Home project -- made possible in part by a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- we gathered a panel to talk about this transition at the Veterans Legacy Summit hosted by The Patterson Foundation on Nov. 15 at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota. 

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