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]

Storm-proofing: Sales-tax break starts July 1, but what about the $10,000 grants?

By: - June 7, 2022

Update: Late Tuesday, a webpage of FAQs about yet-to-be-implemented “My Safe Florida Home” grants was rolled out by the Florida Department of Financial Services. It is at  Florida residents wanting to fortify their homes against storm damage this hurricane season are entitled to sales-tax exemptions starting July 1 on purchases of impact-resistant windows, doors […]

Amid turbulence in FL property insurance market, homeowners still have options — but not many

By: - June 7, 2022

With the first named storm of the 2022 hurricane season — Alex — already leaving its mark on South Florida, the turmoil in the state’s property-insurance market continues to worsen. Tens of thousands of Florida homeowners are scrambling to find coverage, as the insurance industry grapples with “an existential challenge,” as described by a leading […]

Sierra Club of FL endorses Crist for governor in 2022

By: - June 6, 2022

Sierra Club of Florida endorsed U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist Monday in the race to represent Florida Democrats in this fall’s gubernatorial race against incumbent Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Sierra, claiming 32,000 members and roughly 240,000 supporters in its environmental advocacy and legal-defense organization, praised Crist’s overall environmental record as governor 2007-2011 and in Congress since […]

Amid property-insurance crisis, mobile-home owners and hurricane shelters get some attention

By: - May 27, 2022

Overshadowed by the statewide crisis in Florida’s property-insurance market, legislation to make mobile homes and manufactured homes safer during strong storms was signed into law Wednesday. The new law also lets state funding be used not only for retrofitting of hurricane shelters but also for construction of new ones. Sponsored by Palm Beach County Democrat […]

Research group ranks sunscreens for safety to humans and FL coral reefs

By: - May 27, 2022

The safest sunscreens for humans and for Florida’s deteriorating coral reefs are listed in a new guide based on research by the Environmental Working Group, a national nonprofit organization that studies chemicals in sunscreens, cosmetics, food, and tap water. EWG’s 2022 “Guide to Sunscreens” cites scores of mineral-based lotions, sticks and butters with top safety […]

Gov signs property-insurance overhaul; market is still in freefall as hurricane season opens next week

By: - May 26, 2022

A package of property-insurance measures adopted in special session this week by the Florida Legislature are now in effect, signed into law Thursday by Gov. Ron DeSantis amid projections that still more insurance companies will fail in coming weeks. That would leave tens of thousands more homeowners scrambling to find insurance coverage in the opening […]

hurricane cleanup

GOP-controlled FL Legislature OKs property-insurance overhaul; some Dems call it a bailout

By: and - May 25, 2022

Legislation intended to shore up Florida’s crumbling insurance industry is ready to send to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign following a three-day special session of the Florida Legislature to address the deteriorating marketplace, skyrocketing premiums, and widespread policy cancellations on the eve of hurricane season. The state Senate adopted the package on Tuesday and the […]

FL Senate passes property-insurance rescue bill, despite lacking prompt relief for consumers

By: - May 24, 2022

The Florida Senate voted 30-9 to adopt a property-insurance bill to help Florida’s collapsing marketplace, despite admissions that more companies will fail and more policies will be cancelled after June 1. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where a companion bill adopted Tuesday in the House Appropriations Committee awaits. Sen. Jim Boyd, […]

Senate Dems call GOP property-insurance bill a ‘$2 billion tax giveaway’; Republicans defend plan

By: - May 24, 2022

Florida Senate Democrats tried dozens of times Tuesday morning, to no avail, to alter the course of a GOP-sponsored property-insurance bill heading for passage that they say fails to promptly aid homeowners facing steep rate hikes and policy cancellations on the cusp of hurricane season. Senate Bill 2-D, one of two bills spotlighted in this […]

FL senators blast state handling of property insurance

By: - May 23, 2022

Florida senators from both political parties came out swinging Monday – the opening day of the Legislature’s special session on the property insurance crisis – strongly suggesting state government has botched the state’s property-insurance marketplace and still cannot fix it. Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes, Pinellas County Republican, who has long clamored for property-insurance reform, and […]

FL lawmakers unveil property-insurance fixes but market has ‘further devolved’

By: - May 22, 2022

Creating a $2 billion reinsurance fund to help insurance companies pay catastrophic claims is a good idea but it is unclear whether it can significantly ease Florida’s property-insurance crisis. Establishment of that fund to, in essence, provide hard-to-come-by stability for Florida insurance companies, is the hallmark of proposed legislation unveiled late Friday by Republican leaders […]

Property insurance fix: It won’t be about lowering rates

By: - May 20, 2022

Lawmakers, consumers and business interests should manage their expectations next week as the Florida Legislature convenes in special session to address the state’s property-insurance crisis. Foremost for consumers, according to two experts: Soaring property-insurance rates will not decline. “Anyone suggesting otherwise is creating a false sense of security and hope,” said Fred Karlinsky, co-chair of […]