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 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.

The state could see a $30 million drop in sales tax revenue if an amendment banning assault weapons in Florida is passed. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protections / Flickr

Wednesday, the White House announced the federal government will be cracking down on international fentanyl trafficking. Fentanyl is a pain reliever used for treating severe pain, but in recent years the addictive drug has been used recreationally - causing more than 28,000 deaths in 2017. That’s more than half the deaths caused by opioids overall that year. Making it the biggest contributor to the opioid overdose. 

Earlier this month the state’s financial impact estimating group struggled to define certain portions of a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban assault weapons. Friday the group met again, and this time they invited the petition sponsor to help clarify portions of the proposal.  

Based on referrals from the Florida Department of Children and Families four arrests have been made in North Florida relation to exploiting seniors and disabled individuals.

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.

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.

The way some school districts are choosing to comply with bolstered safety measures has U.S. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) upset. Scott explained the problem to the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on enhancing school safety.

Florida courts have spoken. They say the state’s medical marijuana distribution system is unconstitutional, and that could soon force the legislature and the industry to make changes.

Lit Cigarette
Pixabay

According to a study by the Institute of Medicine published in 2015, paid for by the United States Food and Drug Administration, raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco to 21 would reduce the number of lung cancer-related deaths by 50,000. 

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.

Last month Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that allowed medical marijuana flower to be sold in Florida. Now a sponsor of that bill is trying to cap the potency levels of marijuana sold at treatment centers, and also waive license fees for veterans. Opponents say it’s a double-edged sword. 

While low-THC cannabis or hemp is available in stores, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried says it’s not legal …. Yet. Legislation proposed in both Chambers would change that. Tuesday the House bill passed its second committee.

Florida lawmakers want to create a task force to crackdown on the state’s opioid epidemic.

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 want to get rid of a process that determines where facilities like hospitals and nursing homes can be built and what services can be offered. That process is called certificate of need. It was created to keep health care costs low. But lawmakers believe it no longer works.

"I do believe what we’ve seen with CON with hospitals particularly has not fulfilled its purpose and it’s time for this regulation to go," said Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Fort Myers.)

Lawmakers last session limited the prescription for a Schedule II opioid to a maximum 7-day supply, but one representative says they forgot something.

Plastic surgery has become more and more common. But some don’t end up going as planned. Sometimes it can result in death. Sen. Anitere Flores (R-Miami) presented a bill she believes will save lives.

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.

A bill implementing a constitutional amendment that bans vaping in businesses passed its first committee Tuesday. But as Blaise Gainey reports, legislators, advocates and critics must now answer the question – What is vaping?

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. 

As Governor Ron DeSantis was attending inaugural events, lawyers for the state were trying to persuade a three-judge panel to uphold a ban against smoking marijuana.

A day before her inauguration incoming Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried stopped by Second Harvest of Big Bend in Tallahassee to help fill bags and boxes with food for families. She took a break from community service Monday to address the media.

After complaints of inhumane treatment in women’s correctional facilities throughout Florida, one lawmaker is calling for a change.

After two suicides by first responders this week, Hillsborough county residents are pushing lawmakers to focus on mental health this upcoming session.

Governor-elect Ron Desantis’s environmental transition team is focusing on water quality and supply. But when climate change didn’t come up in the team’s discussions, advocates for environmental protection took action.

The group advising Governor-elect Ron Desantis on environmental issues met Monday for the first time. Members focused on water quality and supply.