Bill Nelson

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

The high cost of going to college is the subject of legislation proposed by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who was at the University of West Florida Friday morning.

According to Nelson, student loans are the second-largest debt in America, only behind home mortgage debt.

“And if you took all the credit card debt in the entire United States combined, student loans are larger than that: $1.3 trillion,” said Nelson.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

Opponents of offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico are mobilizing to fight the most recent threat. In Northwest Florida, it’s about protecting military training in the Gulf and preventing future disasters like the like the one caused the 2010 BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Standing at the water’s edge, with arms raised, about three dozen people take part in the culmination of the annual ‘Hands Across the Sand’ event Saturday on Pensacola Beach.

“I’ve been doing this drilling issue ever since the BP Oil Spill,” said Monie Russo. “I’ve been out here religiously.”

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson was in Pensacola recently to get a firsthand look at the University of West Florida’s Center for Cybersecurity.

Center Director Eman El-Sheikh provided a briefing on the facility, one of only six National Center Academic of Excellence (CAE) Regional Resource Centers in the country, serving the Southeast and Puerto Rico.

“We’re thrilled about what we’re doing to cybersecurity, and we certainly want to help advance the state of it overall as a national leader in cyber-education,” said El-Sheikh.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

While the 2018 campaign for the U.S. Senate has not begun officially, it is clearly underway.

November 6, 2018 is still 18 months away but incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott, the presumptive Republican challenger, are already gearing up.

“Most people think that’s going to be the race; we don’t know if someone else is going to enter. But it will be a very expensive, highly competitive race,” says Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

cdc.gov

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is imploring his colleagues not to take up any bills that could undo recent progress in fighting the nation’s growing opioid problem. Similar concerns are found in northwest Florida.

Opioid-related deaths in 2015, the latest available numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outnumbered those from gun homicides and vehicle crashes combined; and more than died from HIV/AIDS at its peak in the mid-1990s.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Almost a year after a rally in Pensacola, a resumption of passenger rail service along the Gulf Coast remains on the table, with some progress reported.

Amtrak’s “Inspection Train” pulled into the Pensacola depot last February, originating from New Orleans with stops along the Panhandle before ending in Jacksonville. Along with a host of VIPs, officials with Amtrak and CSX were aboard, checking both the infrastructure and the public’s desire to resume service which was ended by Hurricane Katrina 11 years ago.

NASA

  U.S. Senator Bill Nelson is sponsoring a NASA funding bill, which requires a human to set foot on Mars. 

Nelson spoke on the Senate floor earlier this year promoting the bill which was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Senate bill 3346 provides the space agency $19.6 billion with a few strings attached. One of them is a commitment to a manned flight to the Red Planet. 

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Florida’s senior U.S. Senator was in Pensacola Monday morning, with a number of stops around town. 

Bill Nelson’s first stop was a tour of the federal courthouse downtown, which is closed because of health-threatening mold and water damage. In April, the Senate approved spending the $32 million needed to renovate the facility. The House followed suit, but something else has cropped up.

Dean Calma / IAEA

One hundred and two people in Florida have been affected by the Zika virus since February, including seven pregnant women whose unborn children face the largest risk. Anti-Zika efforts are ramping up along the Gulf Coast, which 60 million people call home.

In the western Panhandle, only one case of the virus has been found, that was in Santa Rosa County, and the unidentified patient has since made a full recovery.

CDC

Senator Bill Nelson is filing legislation that would provide the $1.9 billion that President Obama says is needed to fight the spread of the Zika virus. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 358 Zika cases in the United States as of Tuesday. Agency Director Thomas Frieden recently told Fox News that their largest concern is how Zika may affect pregnant women.

Republican incumbent Rick Scott rallied the voters in November for a come-from-behind win over Democratic challenger Charlie Crist, but that doesn’t mean he’s popular with them, according to a new poll from Quinnipiac University.

The Governor gets a 42% job approval rating from 936 Florida voters, who were contacted from January 22 to February 1. But 47% percent disapprove, similar to the numbers from Scott’s first term.

NASA

In 2004, Hurricane Charlie hit the state of Florida at Fort Myers on August 13. Hurricane Francis struck the east coast near Stuart on September 5. That was the same day that Ivan went from a tropical storm to a hurricane. 18 hours later it was a category 4 storm and still strengthening.

Bob Barrett / WUWF News

County Commissioners from across Florida's Gulf Coast met at the Hilton on Pensacola Beach Thursday morning to talk about  for money from fines collected because of the Deepwater Oil Spill. This meeting took on added urgency because some of that money may soon be available.

wikimedia

  Florida Senator Bill Nelson was in Pensacola Wednesday to update local officials on the status of payments from the RESTORE Act, which was passed after the BP oil spill in 2010.

Make no mistake; there is still a lot of litigation left to go in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. However, Senator Nelson was in town to pass along some good news to local officials concerning the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars that are available.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Once President Obama announced VA Secretary Shinseki's resignation Friday morning, Republican Congressman Jeff Miller, chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs issued a statement through a press release.  Here is the text of the statement: