Author

Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels

Laura Cassels is a reporter, former statehouse bureau chief, and former city editor. She is a classical pianist, a Florida State University graduate and proud alum of the Florida Flambeau, an independent college newspaper. Contact her at [email protected]

Alimony bill in limbo as pending divorce actions pile up

By: - May 13, 2022

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto 2022 legislation that would make dramatic changes to state law on alimony, and the sooner the better. Lawyers in that section of the Bar say pending divorce and child custody actions are stalled and piling up. As of noon Friday, state […]

Fried seeks EPA help to prevent ‘catastrophic’ damage to FL wetlands

By: - May 12, 2022

Federal environmental regulators should take over wetlands permitting in Florida to prevent “catastrophic” environmental damage where development and sensitive lands are in conflict, says Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried. At issue is a late-2020 decision, in the final months of the Trump administration, to transfer authority over wetlands permitting from the U.S. […]

Federal EPA: Florida must do more to curb pollution killing manatees

By: - May 11, 2022

Mass starvation of manatees in Florida’s polluted Indian River Lagoon demonstrates “the need for accelerated action by the state of Florida” to staunch pollutants fouling their habitat, says the Southeast Region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In a statement issued late Tuesday, EPA’s Southeast region administrator, Daniel Blackman, wrote that the pollution flowing into […]

Mass starvation of manatees impels federal lawsuit over FL water pollution

By: - May 10, 2022

The mass starvation of manatees in Florida last year was caused by preventable water pollution, and state government should be forced to clean up the state’s waterways, says a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of three major environmental groups. More than 1,100 manatees died last year – an unprecedented number — mainly of starvation, […]

‘First Wives’ urge DeSantis to veto reform that lets wealthy ex-husbands undo alimony pledges

By: - March 18, 2022

They call themselves the “First Wives” club, but unlike their Hollywood counterparts, they say they are the ones in the crosshairs. Camille Fiveash of Pensacola said she was pushed and shoved in the halls of the Florida Capitol, stalked, and tormented with death threats. She and other women, whose ex-husbands want to relieve themselves of […]

Early wildfires in Panhandle point to worsening fire season to come

By: - March 8, 2022

Nearly 34,000 acres statewide were on fire in Florida Tuesday, most of it on timberlands in the Panhandle, where Hurricane Michael in 2018 leveled millions of pine trees that remain on the ground ready to burn. “When you have this much timber that’s still on the ground, all it takes is one small spark and […]

FL House poised to vote on congressional districts: both DeSantis’ plan and backup

By: - March 4, 2022

The Florida House’s two-tiered approach to congressional redistricting – proposing a “primary” plan submitted by Gov. Ron DeSantis and a “secondary” plan crafted by House members in case judges strike down the first – fails to take a stand on a critical minority voting-rights dispute, Democrats argued Thursday. Both plans differ from the state Senate’s […]

FL high court OKs new legislative voting maps; congressional plans still embroiled in dispute

By: - March 3, 2022

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved maps redrawing 120 state House districts and 40 state Senate districts that will govern elections for the coming decade. At the same time, Florida lawmakers are embroiled in a heated dispute over minority representation in proposed congressional voting districts. The ruling on legislative districts has no bearing on […]

Flooding in Florida: House plan omits efforts to get to root of water woes

By: - March 2, 2022

One day after an international scientific panel warned that climate change has begun causing “irreversible” damage to the planet and its forms of life, the Florida House of Representatives refused Tuesday to add clean-energy solutions to its legislative plan to defend the state against climate-induced sea-level rise and flooding. The House also advanced a net-metering […]

Corrections nominee would face woefully inadequate prison staffing; environmental protection head would face ‘power grab’

By: - February 28, 2022

The acting head of Florida’s beleaguered prison system advanced toward confirmation after reiterating to state senators at a hearing Monday that staffing and programming remain woefully inadequate. The senators voted Monday to recommend Ricky Dixon for confirmation as secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, and they voted to recommend confirmation of Shawn Hamilton as […]

Election laws: FL Senate Dems fight changes they say are built on fear tactics

By: - February 24, 2022

Black state senators on Thursday condemned plans to further tighten how Florida regulates voters — including creating an elections police force — with one of them describing the effort as rife with “fear tactics” built on misinformation. “Fear tactics is what divides people. And much of that is what’s in part of this bill [Senate […]

Climate-induced flooding: FL planning its defense but leaves causes unaddressed

By: - February 22, 2022

Sea-level rise and inland flooding that will damage thousands of homes and cause billions of dollars in real-estate losses in Florida were high-priority subjects Tuesday in a Senate Appropriations hearing. That subcommittee approved two bills authorizing a defense, but neither attempts to reduce air pollution that causes climate change and worsening flooding. The Senate Appropriations […]