LISTEN LIVE

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

A Republican lawmaker wants to change Florida’s medical marijuana system as well as legalize the drug for adults. 

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) hasn’t been shy in the past when it comes to criticizing the current system and now wants to dismantle it.

A bill filed Friday would give some help to expectant mothers who are behind bars.

A group of Florida teens say the state has violated their constitutional rights by not doing enough to combat climate change. They’ve sued the state because of it. A hearing was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled after the defendants agreed new documents could be added in the case. Still, the teens met in Tallahassee to present their case to the public.

Florida currently allows medical marijuana use and St. Petersburg Republican Senator Jeff Brandes thinks it’s time to take the next step to recreational. The drug is currently legal in 11 states for recreational use, and the majority of states allow medical marijuana.

"I would be shocked if we don’t have adult use in Florida by 2024 just via the constitutional amendment," says Brandes. "I think it’s time for the legislature to take this issue on so we’re going to be proposing legislation this year that would allow for adult use cannabis in Florida."

A lack of affordable housing will soon be a problem in more parts of Florida. According to a Florida Housing Coalition report, 921,928 very low-income households are spending more than half of  what they earn on housing.

A bill to limit litigation tied to auto glass repairs died in committee Tuesday. The unexpected failure caught insurance watchers by surprise but one key lawmaker says the issue isn’t dead yet.

Florida held a clemency board meeting Wednesday for 70 of the 13,000 felons seeking to have their rights restored. Commissioner Nikki Fried is a member of the board and says the process has gotten worse since being ruled unconstitutional in 2018.

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.

Pages