Gina Jordan

Gina Jordan reports from Tallahassee for WUSF and WLRN about how state policy affects your life.

As homebound evacuees clog interstates, Gov. Rick Scott says food, water and fuel are also heading to South Florida.

Calls are mounting for Gov. Rick Scott to declare of public health emergency in the wake of an estimated 4,000 deaths in Florida last year due to heroin and opioid overdoses.

 

Florida is among the worst states for women living in poverty. A report out this month by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and the Florida Women’s Funding Alliance finds 41.5 percent of single women with children are in poverty in our state.

 

The Internet allows savvy consumers to comparison shop for big ticket items. Those items may soon include medical procedures.

Signs about human trafficking are going up in places like airports and strips clubs in the new year. The public awareness campaign is now required by Florida law.

Human trafficking is considered to be a form of modern-day slavery. The signs encourage victims who are being exploited for sex or labor to contact a national hotline.

The new law requires the signs to be posted in a wide range of places including highway rest stops, rail stations, and emergency rooms.

The information must be displayed in English and Spanish - and meet size requirements.


Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed state budget includes $5 million for the creation of a database that would show all the costs and expenses associated with hospital treatment and other health care.

A major overhaul of the state’s mental health system died when the Florida Legislature adjourned early.

Both chambers seemed ready to revamp the delivery of mental health and substance abuse services. The bill’s main focus was changing the way those services are administered in order to better coordinate care among agencies.

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli surprised lawmakers Tuesday when he abruptly adjourned the chamber three days before the legislative session was scheduled to end. He did so because the House and Senate are far apart on a budget plan.

The Florida House has passed a bill that creates the “Right to Try Act.”  The legislation gives dying patients a chance to try treatments that have undergone clinical trials but haven’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  

Patients who’ve been diagnosed as having less than a year to live would be eligible for the experimental treatments.

Several bills working their way through the Florida Legislature would give nurse practitioners the ability to prescribe stronger medications and clarify other duties.

A second Senate committee has approved a bill that spells out the ability of highly trained nurses, known as practitioners, to order controlled substances in the hospital.

Associated Press

More teenagers are trying electronic cigarettes, known as e-cigarettes, according to a study by the University of Florida. Researchers found that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use other tobacco products.

E-cigarettes produce vapor from a liquid that comes in a variety of flavors, like bubble gum and cotton candy. The liquid can be bought with or without nicotine.

Researchers say older people are turning to e-cigarettes to quit their smoking habit, while teens like them for recreational use.

We’re midway through the Legislative session in Tallahassee. The only thing lawmakers are required to do is craft a budget for the fiscal year, which begins July 1. But the House and Senate have some big differences in their proposed budgets. The biggest difference is a $5-billion gap regarding healthcare costs.

The Senate has a plan to continue receiving federal money to pay for healthcare for low-income people.

A product made from cannabis could become one of Florida’s top crops: A bill in Tallahassee would allow Florida farmers to grow hemp.

Robert Clayton finished construction last year on a house made of hemp in Tarpon Springs. It’s thought to be the first of its kind in Florida. He testified at a Senate hearing about his research for the Hemp Industries Association.

A Broward County judge with a history of alcohol problems is being recommended for removal from the bench. Judge Gisele Pollack has been a judge since 2004, overseeing low-level cases in the county's misdemeanor drug court.

Pollack admitted being drunk in the courtroom in December 2013. She agreed to stop drinking alcohol altogether, but the same thing happened a few months later.

Right now, schools determine whether to move a student into special education classes.

But a proposed bill in Tallahassee would give parents of children with special needs more power over their education.

Fort Lauderdale sixth-grader Mariah Harris has Down syndrome, and she wants to be a veterinary technician.

“My dream is to go to college with my friends one day,” she told a panel of lawmakers.