John Davis

John Davis has been a full-time Reporter/Producer for WGCU since 2009. He is the local host for NPRââââ

A federal court judge in Fort Myers ruled against a consortium of Environmental advocacy groups Monday in a lawsuit against the National Park Service and a Texas oil company.  The lawsuit was an attempt to prevent seismic testing for oil and gas reserves in Big Cypress National Preserve

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would increase penalties and jail time for people unlawfully in the U.S. convicted of certain violent offenses.  The bill is progressing through the House with sponsor Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, arguing it would increase public safety and send a message to federal immigration authorities.  Opponents question the bill’s constitutionality, and say Rep. Eagle is misusing data to bolster his case. 

Florida lawmakers are tackling a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, and other fracking-like well stimulation treatments in the state.  The Republican-sponsored bills in the House and Senate have gained a number of co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle.  Supporters of the ban say the risks of surface water and ground water contamination from fracking make the technology too risky.

On the heels of a recent national study ranking the Fort Myers/Cape Coral area the deadliest in the country for pedestrians, one Southwest Florida lawmaker continues to fight for tougher penalties for motorists who injure pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio met with Southwest Florida citrus growers Friday in Immokalee to discuss challenges facing the industry and how the federal government can help.  The bacterial disease, citrus greening, has decimated the industry over the past decade, reducing crop yields by 70 percent compared to where they stood twenty years ago. 

Among the early bills already being filed for Florida’s 2017 legislative session is a measure from Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral, that would increase penalties for undocumented immigrants who commit violent crimes. Supporters say the measure sends a message to federal immigration authorities and would increase public safety. Opponents question its constitutionality. 

The rate of babies born premature in Florida and around the nation increased in 2015 according to the recently released March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card

Lee Memorial Health System celebrates 100 years of serving the community’s medical needs this week.  The first Lee Memorial Hospital opened Oct. 3, 1916 in a 15-bed wood-framed building.  Since that time, it’s grown and expanded into a health system with an inpatient capacity of 1,419 beds employing more than 12,000 people.  We’ll explore LMHS’s rich history in Lee County through the Jim Crow era, the roaring 1920s, the Great Depression, two world wars and beyond.  We’ll also find out about the health system’s new look including the new name, “Lee Health” as the health system begins a new century of care.

A non-profit research center in Fort Myers is joining the rapidly developing field of genetic research. The Clinical & Translational Genome Research Institute opened this month at Florida Gulf Coast University’s newly completed Emergent Technologies Institute.  

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, Inc. found Florida ranks 49th in the country on per-capita spending on access to mental healthcare services.  A state Department of Children and Families report finds more than 330,000 children in Florida struggle with serious emotional disturbances.  

The number of babies born physically dependent on drugs is on the rise in Florida and around the nation.  The condition, called neonatal abstinence syndrome occurs in newborns who were exposed to addictive opiate drugs like heroin, methadone and oxycodone in utero.  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the number of babies born with NAS increased five-fold from 2000 to 2012.  

A recent report from the Florida Medical Examiners Commission finds that Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit, which includes DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota Counties, had the fourth highest number of heroin-related deaths in the state for the first half of 2015.  The issue of drug-related deaths has been particularly bad in Manatee County which established itself as the heroin capital of Florida in 2014 with 110 deaths due to heroin and or fentanyl.

Florida’s death penalty law and the fate of the state’s nearly 400 death row inmates remains in flux.  Last week a Miami-Dade judge ruled that Florida’s newly revised death penalty sentencing law is unconstitutional.  That ruling came in the case of Karon Gaiter who awaits trial for first-degree murder.  Judge Milton Hirsh ruled that the law goes against the long-time sanctity of unanimous verdicts in death penalty cases because the system only requires 10 of 12 jurors to vote in favor of imposing execution.

In April, Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Indiana, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, introduced a bill (H.R. 5003) to reauthorize child nutrition programs aimed at helping kids from low income families facing food insecurity.  Opponents say a provision of the bill places 3.4 million students nationwide at risk of losing free meals at school, including more than 200,000 children in Florida at 276 schools. 

  Lee Memorial Health System is temporarily suspending its kidney transplant program at Gulf Coast Hospital in Fort Myers while working to restructure and hire new staff.  The move comes a year after the health system stopped performing kidney transplants with living donors following the death of a donor.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced an update to its Agricultural Worker Protection Standard in late September.  The updates are intended to better protect against harmful pesticide exposure.  Farmworker advocates are celebrating the victory and what it will mean form the nation’s 2 million farmworkers, including nearly 300,000 in Florida.

The Florida Department of Elder Affairs recently announced the Dementia Care and Cure Initiative to spread public awareness about dementia and to help make Florida communities more dementia-friendly.


Florida fared poorly in a recent analysis and ranking of U.S. states when it comes to social and economic conditions for children.  The 2015’s Best & Worst States for Underprivileged Children report, from the personal finance website, WalletHub.com, ranks Florida 45th in the nation overall.  The report ranks Florida 43rd when it comes to the rate of children experiencing food insecurity and 47th for the percentage of children without health insurance.  As August marks National Child Support Awareness Month, we’ll take a closer look at the report’s findings as we explore conditions for underprivileged kids in the Sunshine State.

The stalemate between the Florida House and Senate over whether to expand Medicaid led to the 2015 legislative session ending with no budget in place.  It also means it’s unlikely that Florida hospitals will see an extension of the federal Low Income Pool (LIP) program which provides funds for hospitals treating uninsured low-income patients.  That creates challenges for healthcare systems in Southwest Florida and around the state.


Naloxone is a prescription medication used to rapidly counter the effects of opioids from powerful prescription pain-killers like morphine and OxyContin to street drugs like Heroin. While the drug’s effects are unpleasant, if administered quickly, it can revive people who’ve overdosed on opiate medications and save their lives. Florida lawmakers will consider a bill in the upcoming session to expand availability of naloxone by allowing physicians to prescribe the drug to friends or loved ones of those taking powerful prescription opioids so it could be quickly administered in the case of an overdose. Supporters of the measure point to the more than 2,000 accidental prescription overdose deaths in 2013. Opponents point to potential legal liability issues and argue the bill could encourage prescription drug abuse.