First Amendment

For years, American smokers have been spared the unpleasant images of gangrene infected feet, swollen tongues overtaken by cancerous tumors and blackened lungs that are often plastered onto packs of cigarettes sold around the world. But that momentary reprieve before lighting up may only last a few more years.

A feeling of déjà vu washed over me as I sat in the courtroom for Jim Acosta's legal fight over his White House press pass this week. I, too, once got shut down on my beat, though not by a president. I was saved not by a lawsuit but by a Republican lawyer — indeed, one of the lawyers now representing CNN in the Acosta case.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

A yearlong battle over a house that was painted to look like Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night, ended on Tuesday with an apology and an agreement to drop thousands in fees against the homeowners.

Nancy Nemhauser and Lubomir Jastrzebski had been embroiled in a legal feud with the city of Mount Dora, Fla., to keep their interpretation of the masterpiece on their home and the wall surrounding it, after the city fined them.

The National Park Service has approved an initial request for organizers to hold a second "Unite the Right" rally, this time across the street from the White House in August — one year after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Va.

Bob Jagendorf / Wikimedia

A Florida-based publisher of a magazine written by inmates lost a federal appeal of a freedom of speech case against the Florida Department of Corrections, which has barred the magazine from state correctional facilities.

Prison Legal News, based in Lake Worth, is distributed and read in state prisons in all 49 other states, leaving its home state as the only exception. The original case against the state was filed in 2004, and has since wound its way through the courts.

Some Florida lawmakers received better grades this year when it came to transparency in government, but erosion of the state's famed "Sunshine Laws" continued with more exemptions passed.

Updated at 2:05 p.m. ET

It's not that uncommon to hear someone complaining that politicians are corrupt. But you wouldn't expect to be thrown in jail for it.

That's exactly what happened to Fane Lozman at a City Council meeting in Florida.

Broward Health Medical Center building
Broward Health Medical Center / WLRN

Top officials on the Broward Health System’s board have been indicted on counts of violating Florida’s open government law. 

 

Florida’s Sunshine Law, a series of laws put in place to guarantee the public's access to governmental records,  includes an open meetings rule: Public boards have to conduct their business in public and notify people before they do. 

Courtesy of Adam Cohen

During the 2012-2013 school year, some high school students in Broward County started looking into public access to public meetings as part of a class project — “Democracy in Action” — that almost became state law. 

Creative Commons

Florida allows some of the easiest access to government records and meetings of any state in the country under the state's Sunshine Laws. 

People have a right to access state documents like minutes from meetings between government officials, foster care case files and environmental studies. Government meetings for the most part are open to the public for anyone to attend.

Miami Herald

Every 20 years, a 37-person commission comes up with a list of amendments to the Florida Constitution.

The next cohort of the Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) met on Monday for the first time,  in the Florida Senate chambers in Tallahassee.

The group will have a year to travel around the state and figure out what kinds of changes need to be made to the constitution. It already scheduled visits to Orange, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties.

Long before Joshua Johnson was on the air as a reporter here at WLRN during the early days of our partnership with the Miami Herald, he'd spend his Friday afternoons on the Jack Cole Show on WJNO in West Palm Beach, where Johnson grew up. He was 14 then, and he knew right away that radio was what he wanted to do.

This month, Johnson took over the microphone where Diane Rehm left off, with his new national show 1A from NPR and WAMU in Washington, DC. On WLRN, it airs every weekday at 10 a.m.

As longtime public radio talk show host Diane Rehm retires, her midday slot will be filled with a new show called 1A, NPR member station WAMU announced Wednesday.

The new live two-hour show — with a name reminiscent of a newspaper front page, as well as the First Amendment — will be hosted by Joshua Johnson, co-creator and host of the radio series Truth Be Told about race in America.