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Lottie Watts

Reporter/Producer

Lottie Watts is our Florida Matters producer, and she also covers health and health policy for Health News Florida.

She earned a master’s degree in journalism and media studies from University of South Florida St. Petersburg, where she was the editor and graduate assistant at the Neighborhood News Bureau. She earned a bachelor of science in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University, where she interned at WSTM-TV and WSYR-TV. Her work has been recognized by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists, Florida Associated Press Broadcasters, Society of Professional Journalists Sunshine State Awards, SPJ's Green Eyeshade Awards and RTDNA's Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards

Contact Lottie by email or phone: 813-974-8705. 

Ways to Connect

You can be a part of our audience for a special Florida Matters town hall featuring a panel discussion and preview of the new Ric Burns film “Debt of Honor: Disabled Veterans in American History.”

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 25 at 7:30 a.m.), we’re exploring some of the many beaches around Tampa Bay, with a look at parking, water quality and recollections of beach days gone by.

Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading

The 23rd Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading will be held on Saturday, Oct. 24 at USF St. Petersburg.

Tim Redman

The Florida Orchestra has begun its 48th season, and the orchestra has a new music director. 

Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly was elected to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional district in a special election in 2014, and was re-elected in November 2014. 

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 a.m.), we feature a newsmaker special with Jolly, who is now campaigning for the Senate seat being vacated by  U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.  

Many baby boomers are looking for work to do after they stopped working full-time.

Manatee County, on Florida's west coast, is home to more than 300,000 people.  It's known for its beaches, and if you go just a short distance inland, you'll pass by the iconic fruit stands and working citrus groves.

WMFE

Heroin overdoses are rising most everywhere, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in Manatee County.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

In 2013, Florida had more new cases of HIV than anywhere else in the nation. When it comes to the presence of HIV in Florida, the state’s six largest metropolitan areas could be states unto themselves.

In July 2015, emergency responders in Manatee County handled more than 200 heroin overdose calls. And the repeat overdose calls alone are nearly three times what the overall total was for July 2014.

Consider this past weekend a dry run -- in spite of all the rain – for tropical storm and hurricane preparation.  Tropical Storm Erika never made it to Florida, but emergency officials spent much of last week urging people to get ready. 

You can join us and be a part of our audience for a special Florida Matters town hall on the rising tide of HIV infection in Florida. 

NOAA.gov

We take a look at how you can prepare if any storms do come our way.

County health departments have been testing beach water quality since 2000, and issuing advisories when bacteria levels get too high.

Disney Educational Productions

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL, is giving up his seat to run for president -- and the battle has begun to take his job.

Lottie Watts / WUSF

Big changes are coming to Tampa International Airport, and this week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 23 at 7:30 a.m.), we’re bringing you a special newsmaker edition of the show with airport CEO Joe Lopano.

One of our burning questions: Is it TPA – or TIA? According to Lopano, it’s both.

National Weather Service

The National Weather Service, as well as rain-weary residents, continue to keep a cautious eye on numerous rivers around West Central Florida.

With more thunderstorms possible the rest of the week, officials are closely monitoring the Alafia River and the Little Manatee River in Hillsborough County and Cypress Creek and the Withlacoochee River in Pasco County.

Planned Parenthood fired back Monday against allegations that three Florida abortion clinics provided second-trimester abortions without proper licenses, seeking an emergency injunction against the state Agency for Health Care Administration "to protect women's access to safe, legal abortion."

  Numbers released by federal health officials Thursday show that Florida led in health insurance sign-ups during extra time given during tax season.

More than 30,000 Floridians took advantage of the extended enrollment period that ended April 30. That's the highest among the 37 states that use the federal marketplace at HealthCare.gov.

The extra time was given for people who didn't know -- or understand -- they could face a tax penalty for not having health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Village of the Arts

Sarasota is known around the world for its arts scene. Can Bradenton and Manatee County become a destination for the arts? 

Planned Parenthood officials on Thursday said Florida officials misrepresented the abortions being conducted at several of its clinics, and used a 2006 letter from the Agency for Health Care Administration to back it up.

Florida officials say three of the 16 Planned Parenthood facilities inspected last week were performing procedures beyond their licensing authority, and one facility was not keeping proper logs relating to fetal remains.

However, none of 16 clinics were found to be illegally selling or transferring fetal tissue or parts.

AP

Florida's citrus industry is hurting in a big way.  The final report of the growing season by the U.S. Department of Agriculture put Florida orange production for the 2014-15 season at 96.7 million boxes, a drop of 4 percent from last year.

M.S. Butler

When it comes to children, the definition of homeless includes more children than you may think.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act children and youth who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless." That means children who are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds -- or doubled-up with relatives or friends  --are homeless, as well as those who stay in shelters, on the street or in abandoned buildings.

Florida is faring poorly on economic factors that influence child poverty, but key health indicators -- from low-birthweight babies to child health insurance rates and teens who abuse drugs and alcohol –  have improved, according to the latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Back in June, state officials decided to allow bear hunting in Florida for the first time in 20 years. The season will open on Oct. 24, and could last for up to a week. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the hunt is part of its comprehensive bear management plan, and will be open in four of the seven “Bear Management Units.”

The latest Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that childhood poverty and family unemployment were major factors behind Florida's rank of 37th in the country for child well-being.

Last month's ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on the Affordable Care Act means more than 1.4 million Floridians will keep their tax subsidies for health plans purchased on the federal marketplace at HealthCare.gov. 

Florida and three dozen other states opted to use the federal marketplace instead of creating their own. That prompted a case that challenged the availability of tax subsidies for people in states that did not create their own marketplaces.

Robin Sussingham / WUSF News

Same-sex couples have been able to marry in Florida since Jan. 6, 2015. On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide. What are the impacts of this ruling on Florida’s same-sex couples? And what questions are they asking as they consider tying the knot?

Florida will receive at least $3.2 billion  from an $18.7 billion settlement with BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP and five Gulf states announced the massive settlement Thursday, resolving years of legal fighting over the environmental and economic damage done by the energy giant's oil spill in 2010.

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