Blaise Gainey

Blaise Gainey is a Multimedia Reporter for WFSU News. Blaise hails from Windermere, Florida. He graduated from The School of Journalism at the Florida A&M University. He formerly 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.

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Businesses wants legislators to limit coronavirus related lawsuits unless there is intentional misconduct.  AJ de Moya is the Vice President of The de Moya Group, Incorporated, a highway and bridge construction company. He’s part of the Governors Reopening Task Force. He says one legislator is already looking into the issue.

Universal Studios CEO John Sprouls says when the amusement park reopens, attendance will be capped. He’s part of the task force put together by Governor Ron DeSantis looking into how to reopen the state.  Sprouls says he wants to make sure park visitors can maintain social distancing.

The Florida Elections Commission is putting meetings on hold until August as a response to the coronavirus. They made the decision during a teleconference Tuesday. Tim Vaccaro is the executive director.

Governor Ron DeSantis is putting together a task force that will help create a plan to open business in Florida. The group meets this afternoon for the first time. In response, Florida Democrats and a medical professional held a press conference this morning to urge the governor to not reopen the state.

On Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis held the introductory meeting of his assembled Re-Open Florida Task Force. The group will look at when and how to begin opening up the state’s economy – but ideas haven’t started flowing yet.

Since mid-March long-term care facilities in Florida have not allowed visitors to enter their buildings. But the number of positive cases there have continued to rise. In response, Governor Ron DeSantis says he’s going to ramp up testing.

According to the latest Florida Department of Health COVID-19 report, Leon County is 4th in the state when it comes to coronavirus infections in long-term care facilities. Elder care advocates are calling on the state to release more information.

The federal government has agreed to give Americans money during the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.

But U.S.  Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, says the financial boost coming to citizens from the federal government may not be the only one.

In response to COVID-19 Governor Ron DeSantis has made all restaurants take-out or delivery only and closed all bars. He’s also limited gatherings on beaches to no more than 10 people and is asking people 65 and older to stay home.  But state elected officials believe more needs to be done to help stop the spread of the virus. Lawmakers spoke about what they think should be the next steps.

The Florida Department of Health is now allowing medical marijuana patients to use telehealth to check in with their doctors. 

Law enforcement and court officials are working to keep coronavirus out of their systems. Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil says his department is working to create more space inside their detention centers to comply with social distancing recommendations. That could involve releasing some inmates and using more discretion when it comes to booking new ones.

A bill to make K-12 student-athletes safer in Florida is now being sent to the governor after receiving a unanimous vote in the House and Senate. The bill focuses on heatstroke prevention for outdoor sports.

A House bill would now put a 10% THC Cap on cannabis given to patients under the age of 21. The amendment falls in line with a priority of House Speaker Jose Oliva. Opponents say there’s a lack of proof the prohibition is necessary.

The Florida House has approved a measure that includes a plan to curb the arrest of children under 10. It came after last-minute negotiations and personal pleas from six-year-old Kaia Rolle and her grandmother.

More than 5 million teenagers reported using e-cigarettes in November, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The legal age to purchase and use nicotine products is 18. That changes to 21 in June after a federal law was signed in December. Now Florida is adjusting its laws to reflect the national change, but the House and Senate aren’t aligned on what needs to be done.

Florida lawmakers say it should be a crime for fertility doctors to inseminate patients with their own sperm without consent. Several cases have popped up recently as the popularity of at-home genetic testing has grown--revealing the actions of unscrupulous doctors. But most states have no laws against the act.

It’s been two years since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting that left 17 dead. Since then, the legislature has passed several laws in an attempt to prevent more gun violence. Some of the changes include arming teachers, raising the legal age to purchase guns, and removing weapons from people who police are worried might harm themselves or others--the so-called red flag law. This session, Senate President Bill Galvano (Bradenton-R) asked lawmakers to study the causes behind gun violence, but so far not a lot is happening.

In Florida, every car owner must have Personal Injury Coverage. The rule went into place 40 years ago and many say since then it’s gotten too expensive. Now lawmakers are looking into a new plan to revamp the system.

The Florida House has done its part to make sure life, disability and long term care insurers can’t use a person’s genetic data against them. The bill, approved by the House Wednesday, adds to protections already in place by the federal government. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has been adamant about the need to make the change.

State estimates show Florida could save hundreds of thousands of dollars if it were to allow certain inmates to be released from prison early.

A new federal law bans anyone less than 21-years-old from purchasing tobacco products--including vaporizers. Meanwhile, state lawmakers are considering new legislation aimed at enforcing that law. But some say the state's proposed penalties aren’t harsh enough to be effective.

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.

Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St.Petersburg) wants to legalize marijuana for adult use and also clear simple possession cannabis charges for those convicted across the state. It’s the first time a Republican has sponsored such legislation in Florida.

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

A bill creating a prescription drug donation program within the Department of Health returned today in the Health Quality subcommittee. It passed on a unanimous vote.

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.