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Blaise Gainey

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Fla. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formely worked for The Florida Channel, WTXL-TV, and before graduating interned with WFSU News. He is excited to return to the newsroom. In his spare time he enjoys watching sports, netflix, outdoor activities and anything involving his daughter. Follow Blaise Gainey on Twitter: @BlaiseGainey

Florida is the first state to receive block grants for the timber industry from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Florida is near the bottom of the nation when it comes to teacher pay. Governor Ron DeSantis wants to change that by raising the base salary. But the state’s largest teacher union says the governor’s plans don’t go far enough. 

North Florida could be getting its first major toll road thanks to a bill signed by the Governor this summer. It’s one of three new major roadways to be built in the state. One would connect Collier County to Polk County, another extends the Florida Turnpike west to Suncoast Parkway and the third expands the Suncoast Parkway from Tampa Bay to Georgia. A task force was put in place for each section but a member of the Northern Turnpike Connector thinks plans are moving too fast.

A proposed assault weapons ban would prohibit all semi-automatic shotguns and rifles that are capable of holding more than 10 rounds. State economists say that would affect around 71 percent of rifles and half of shotguns. Charlie Strickland, CEO of Talon Training Group, says it’d be a big hit to his business.

Floridians are no strangers to hurricanes. But for nearly a decade the state saw no direct landfall from a tropical cyclone. Now after consecutive years of major hurricanes, some citizens seem to have a kneejerk reaction when a storm system nears. That, added to the intensity of recent storms, has some questioning the accuracy of storm path projections. Meanwhile, meteorologists say their technology is working better than ever.

The State Hemp Advisory Committee is trying to kick start Florida’s Hemp industry. One of its first steps is to create rules. Florida’s Director of Cannabis Holly Bell spoke on how that process will move forward.

Tara Tedrow has been chosen to chair the group tasked with creating rules for Florida’s newest industry. During which Tedrow gave a quick rundown of what she does during the first Hemp Advisory Committee meeting.

Next time you’re in South Florida beware of Iguanas. The states animal protection agency has now given its approval to kill the  lizards without permits. 

Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis essentially reversed his predecessors’ actions by giving back $2.3 million  to elections supervisors to spend on cyber security. The money was left over from a $19 million grant the federal government gave the state prior to the 2018 primary election.

A petition aimed at banning assault weapons has earned a constitutional review by the Florida Supreme Court. Ban Assault Weapons Now, an organizations led by survivors of mass shootings and their families, announced Monday they had 103,000 signatures.

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill thats main goal is to stop bad actors in the homeowners insurance market. It would do so by changing what a contractor must do when a policy holder signs over their insurance benefits.

The itinerary is set for Governor Ron DeSantis’s trip to Israel. He will be meeting with Israeli business leaders, and he’ll take a cultural visit to the Old City of Jerusalem.

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a tax bill Wednesday that is estimated to save Florida families nearly $47 million during two sales tax holidays. Another part of the bill is expected to save commercial real estate renters more than $64 million by reducing the tax rate.

Leon Circuit Judge James Hankinson is expected to make a decision this week on whether to postpone the joint trial for the Dan Markel murder case.

When Florida is hit by a hurricane, utility companies must go in and help recover immediately. They pay for the cost up front and later charge customers to recoup their losses. A senate bill aims to lower both the price tag and time of recovery by forcing utility companies to strengthen their infrastructure before a storm.

For years now some members of the legislature have been pushing to create a way to help firefighters battling cancer. Studies show they are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, because of their line of work. This year the effort has overwhelming support in the Senate but hasn’t been heard in a house committee yet.

In 2017 the legislature decided to give greater incentives to charter schools to serve students in low-performing traditional schools. Today an attempt to expand where the schools of hope could open up was approved in the House.

Lawmakers in the Senate today passed a bill that would implement Amendment 4, which allows certain felons to vote. But as Blaise Gainey reports proponents of the amendment say it’s self-enacting and the bill passed today isn’t needed and may not meet constitutional muster.

For years the Florida legislature has funded Visit Florida – a group charged with advertising and marketing tourism for the state. It works overseas, and around the country and also keeps track of the state’s tourism number. Now the agency is set to dissolve in October unless the legislature decides to keep it going.

But both chambers are at odds on whether it’s needed.

Public commenters gave lawmakers an earful today when the implementing bill for 2018’s Amendment 4 came up in a House committee meeting. The amendment allows certain felons to vote. But that raises the question which felons can’t vote?

Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried wants the legislature to provide 77 full time employees to help process background checks for gun licensing.

Lawmakers last session limited the prescription for a Schedule II opioid to a maximum 7-day supply, but one representative says they forgot something.

A joint resolution that’s making its way through the House would change the way campaigns for statewide races are funded.

It could become even tougher for Florida students to get bright futures scholarships. A senate proposal would match the state score requirements for the SAT and ACT tests to match the national percentile rankings.

A non-euphoric strain of cannabis is being sold in stores across Florida. It’s available as oils, edibles, and even flower. But as questions about the legality of it linger, CBD remains in limbo.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is tapping Nashville hemp consultant Holly Bell for the department’s cannabis director. Bell was instrumental in getting Tennessee’s hemp industry off the ground, and Fried hopes Bell can do the same in Florida.

“The economic impact for our state is enormous. [The] medical marijuana industry alone is projected to have a $1.6 billion economics, creating more jobs in manufacturing by 2020. Hemp can be a multi-billion-dollar industry here in the state,” said Fried.

Officials in charge of getting Tyndall Air Force Base back up and running gave an overview Thursday of where they are now and where they hope to be in the future. The base hosted it's first "Industry Day" since Hurricane Michael severely damaged it in October. 

The Assignment of Benefits issue that has been plaguing the property insurance industry for a few years may finally be changed. During Wednesdays Associated Press Legislative Planning Session Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis blamed bad actors who he says are twisting the law.

Where to place a memorial recognizing the four, Jim Crow-era, Leon County lynching victims? That’s under consideration by a group calling itself the Community Remembrance Project Task Force.

Although not very large in mass Hurricane Michael brought a powerful blow to the panhandle. Since, communities in the target area have been struggling to find funds to pay for the debris cleanup, even with help from the federal government.

The announcement that the feds will be providing more funding has removed some of the burden on local governments.

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