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

Governor Ron DeSantis signed a tax bill Wednesday, that is estimated to save Florida families nearly $47 million, with two sales tax holidays. Another part of the same bill is expected to save commercial real estate renters more than $64 million, by reducing the tax rate.

Most of the discussion about a recently passed elections bill has focused on 2018’s Amendment 4. It restored the right for certain felons to vote. But the bill does many more things aimed at fixing issues within Florida’s elections system.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is slated to get nearly 4 million dollars from the federal government to help cover costs of debris removal following Hurricane Michael.

It’s a known fact that smoking tobacco isn’t good for your heart, lung, and can cause cancer. But the leading groups on those very things are opposed to a bill that would raise the age of sale for tobacco products to 21. WFSU’s Blaise Gainey speaks with American Heart Association’s Government Relations Director Mark Landreth about why they oppose the proposed legislation.

A bill that would set a cap on toll roads in Miami-Dade County has passed the full House. Bill sponsor Hialeah Republican Representative Bryan Avila says what the Expressway Authority is not doing its job. 

A bill would allow prescription drugs from Canada to be purchased by the Agency for Health Care Administration and imported for use. The hope is that importing the inexpensive drugs will cut down cost for patients.

When Florida is hit by a hurricane, utility companies must go in and help recover immediately. They pay for the cost up front and later charge customers to recoup their losses. A senate bill aims to lower both the price tag and time of recovery by forcing utility companies to strengthen their infrastructure before a storm.

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.

When amendments are made to the constitution sometimes they need legislation to be passed that would implement the change. Well this year lawmakers are doing that with 2018’s Amendment 4 which allows certain felons the right to vote after completing their sentence. There’s debate over whether implementing legislation is needed and WFSU’s Blaise Gainey reports both sides clashed during Thursday’s bill hearing.

In 2017 the legislature decided to give greater incentives to charter schools to serve students in low-performing traditional schools. Today an attempt to expand where the schools of hope could open up was approved in the House.

In Florida a court can sentence a person under the age of 21 as a youthful offender. If a court does so that person can only receive a maximum sentence of six years. But the court process can take time. Public Defender Carey Haughwout says a bill moving through the legislature makes sure people aren't penalized by the delay.

In November, voters agreed to change The Florida Constitution to ban fracking. A bill moving through the legislature sort of implements that.

For years the Florida legislature has funded Visit Florida – a group charged with advertising and marketing tourism for the state. It works overseas, and around the country and also keeps track of the state’s tourism number. Now the agency is set to dissolve in October unless the legislature decides to keep it going.

But both chambers are at odds on whether it’s needed.

Public commenters gave lawmakers an earful today when the implementing bill for 2018’s Amendment 4 came up in a House committee meeting. The amendment allows certain felons to vote. But that raises the question which felons can’t vote?

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