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.

Invasive snails that already cost FL $24 million are loose again as illegal pet trade continues

By: - July 7, 2022

Fighting a new infestation of an invasive, crop-damaging snail, Florida agriculture officials on Thursday said they have collected 1,000 of the creatures in just over a week in Pasco County, where they were recently discovered following two years in abeyance. It marks the third infestation in Florida, which has spent more than $24 million to […]

Broward teacher/gun-safety activist vows to use commission post to demand reform

By: - July 6, 2022

Citing 11 mass shootings over the July 4th holiday, Broward County school teacher and gun-violence prevention activist Tracy Merlin said Wednesday she will use her new role with the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to amplify demands for common-sense gun laws. “This weekend, there were 11 mass shootings in America,” Merlin said during […]

Critics in FL condemn U.S. Supreme Court ruling that hinders action on climate

By: - July 6, 2022

Organizations and lawmakers at the forefront of climate action in weather-sensitive Florida are among critics condemning the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that slashes the federal government’s ability to restrict power-plant pollution that fuels climate change. Regulated industries in Florida and Florida’s Republican members of Congress were less vocal after the ruling than before […]

Women’s clinics in FL scrambling to serve worried patients as abortion rights shrink

By: and - July 1, 2022

Reproductive-health clinics in Florida, stuck between a new ban on performing abortions after 15-weeks of pregnancy and an order coming next week to block it, reported being flooded with phone calls from anxious patients as the ban took effect Friday. Florida has 55 licensed abortion sites. Contacted by the Florida Phoenix, a number of providers […]

FL’s Rep. Murphy: New Jan. 6 testimony reveals ‘betrayal at the highest levels’

By: - June 29, 2022

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat and one of nine members of the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the nation’s Capitol, told reporters Tuesday that the day’s testimony shows President Donald Trump understood what was unfolding on Jan. 6 and did nothing to prevent it or stop it. “Trump and […]

Citizens Property Insurance gets OK to raise homeowner rates 6.4 percent, less than requested

By: - June 28, 2022

Property owners insured by Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Florida’s insurer of last resort, face rate increases of up to 11 percent starting Sept. 1, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR). Citizens, a state-run corporation, insures more than 800,000 Floridians and is growing rapidly as private insurance companies retreat from the Florida marketplace. […]

FL homeowners face still-rising property insurance premiums; regulators review hefty rate hikes

By: - June 27, 2022

More increases in property-insurance premiums are in the pipeline for Florida homeowners, whose property-insurance costs already are far above the national average. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is evaluating requests from three private property insurance companies to raise their rates: Florida Farm Bureau wants an increase of nearly 49 percent; First Floridian Auto and […]

FL governor vetoes alimony overhaul, marking its third failure in a decade of reform efforts

By: - June 24, 2022

Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday vetoed an alimony overhaul bill that was sponsored by the state chairman of his political party and opposed by the National Organization for Women, the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar, and other critics. It was the third strike in a decade for groups of ex-spouses seeking to […]

FL Planned Parenthood braces for surge in out-of-state patients following Roe v. Wade ruling

By: - June 24, 2022

Abortion providers in Florida that have seen an influx of out-of-state patients for months are bracing for even more, mostly from Georgia but also from neighboring Southern states. “Planned Parenthood centers are busy already. We’ll be even busier, from neighboring states,” said Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates. “We’ve […]

2020 election: Group of FL Democrats braced themselves for interference if Trump lost

By: - June 22, 2022

Florida Democratic lawmakers were concerned during the 2020 presidential campaign that if GOP President Donald Trump, a Florida resident and mentor of Gov. Ron DeSantis, lost the popular vote in his home state, Republicans could cast the state’s electoral ballots for Trump anyway. “We long suspected the possibility of such a move if we [Democrats] […]

Trump attorney links FL to efforts to use alternate electors to undermine Biden victory

By: - June 22, 2022

Amid the partisan turbulence of the 2020 presidential campaign, attorney John Eastman and other strategists for then-President Donald Trump were making plans to help Trump remain in office in case he did not actually win, according to evidence being gathered in Congress. On Tuesday, Florida burst into that picture with Eastman saying in a video […]

Alimony: Allies and foes wage fevered campaigns to have DeSantis sign or veto overhaul

By: - June 20, 2022

The years-long battle over whether to overhaul permanent alimony and child-custody laws in Florida reached fever pitch last week when the Florida Senate transmitted Senate Bill 1796 to Gov. Ron DeSantis to approve or veto. SB 1796 would allow more ex-spouses to terminate permanent alimony payments and would create a 50/50 presumption regarding time-sharing of […]