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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

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.

Governor Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet approved Danny Burgess Jr. Thursday as the Department of Veterans' Affairs Director. Burgess is a former Pasco County Republican Representative who in November defeated his opponent by a nearly 2-1 margin. 

A bill to limit constitutional amendments to one subject passed its first committee unanimously Tuesday. The bill sponsor says bundling issues into one ballot initiative is unfair.

A new Secretary for the Florida Department of Transportation was selected today. A week after being recommended to Governor Ron DeSantis, Kevin Thibault has been chosen to lead the Florida Department of Transportation. The Governor made the decision today in a press release calling Thibault, "a proven leader in state government and the private sector.”

Lieutenant Colonel George Hardy, is the youngest member of the Tuskegee Airmen. Thursday, he spoke at Florida A&M University. The discussion focused on racial segregation and what took place shortly after it was outlawed.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is expediting money for debris removal in communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. DeSantis also wants the U.S. government to take on a bigger share of the recovery costs.

State Senator Jeff Brandes believes the Florida Legislature is now organized in a way that will lead to more insurance issues being heard and ultimately solved. The Office of Insurance Regulation held it’s 2019 summit this week.

Members of the House Higher Education Appropriations committee received a breakdown of the budget for the year Thursday. As Blaise Gainey reports, the chairman says the entire budget for colleges and universities will be up for discussion this session.

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