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]

House

Superspreader? Following DeSantis’ lead, FL Legislature to convene without COVID restrictions

By: - January 5, 2022

When Florida lawmakers and thousands of state employees, lobbyists and visitors convene next week for a two-month legislative session, more than bills, budgets and gossip will be passed. COVID-19 and its newest, highly transmissible omicron variant may prove to be a key influencer in the state Capitol complex, which will be open to all with […]

DeSantis: ‘Our schools will be open’ despite surge in COVID infections

By: - January 3, 2022

With nearly 3 million Florida public school students returning to in-person classes this week amid a record surge in COVID infections in the state, there will be no tightening of COVID protocols for students, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday at a press conference in Fort Lauderdale. “Our schools will be open in the state of […]

Essential workers in FL hope for relief in new year

By: - January 1, 2022

While Americans grew more divided over politics in 2021, frontline essential workers toiled on to hold the nation together. Lauded as heroes but often not treated as such, nurses, first responders, teachers, farm workers, commercial drivers, and other essential workers shouldered the load to keep goods, food, health care, and education available through both the […]

COMMENTARY

Year that began with partisan violence spawned culture wars and litigation in FL

By: - December 31, 2021

The hostile tone that branded 2021 set in early, when a mob in support of former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to disrupt Congress’ transfer of power to incoming President Joe Biden. It cost Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, rioter Ashli Babbitt, and three other people their lives. Nearly 140 […]

Sports-betting campaign bets to win as deadline to gather signatures approaches

By: - December 29, 2021

The campaign to let voters decide next year whether to legalize sports betting statewide is on track, its proponents insist, notwithstanding appearances to the contrary. Florida’s Division of Elections reports the campaign to amend the Florida Constitution in 2022 has collected fewer than one-third of the 891,589 validated petition signatures it will need within the […]

Feds to send FL $86.9 million for school meals amid supply-chain challenges

By: - December 17, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending Florida $86.9 million to schools for food to help them cope with supply-chain challenges associated with the COVID pandemic. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that is Florida’s share of $1.5 billion being provided to states to buy food for school meals, including $200 million to be used […]

FL Democrats call on DeSantis to declare emergency over affordable housing

By: - December 17, 2021

Rising costs of rental housing and even price-gouging are driving Floridians from their homes in numbers that constitute a state of emergency, say 14 Democratic state lawmakers calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to take emergency action on housing. “In Central Florida, rents have increased by 20 percent since January, in South Florida, rents have risen […]

Dems, Chamber of Commerce and engineers celebrate historic investment in infrastructure and jobs

By: - December 17, 2021

The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law approved by Congress promises to deliver more than $20 billion in federal funding to Florida over the next five years to upgrade roads, bridges, airports, seaports and water systems. The funds also would expand availability of high-speed internet and electric-vehicle charging stations. Florida Democrats are celebrating passage of the infrastructure […]

CDC advisory panel advises against use of J&J vaccines and boosters

By: - December 16, 2021

Update: CDC Director Rochelle Walensky late Thursday adopted the recommendation of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to express “clinical preference” for Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines and boosters over Johnson & Johnson’s COVID vaccine and booster. The J&J vaccine, despite a rare but serious side effect, will remain available for people who would […]

Forever chemicals: FL Senate panel proposes to tackle PFAS contamination

By: - December 14, 2021

Florida’s Senate Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources plans to address PFAS, a class of man-made compounds referred to as “forever chemicals” that may pose public health or ecological risks, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The proposed committee bill would create a 16-member task force by next fall to determine how to identify […]

Gambling wars: Pro-casino group pauses lawsuit alleging interference by Seminole Tribe

By: - December 13, 2021

A pro-casino group backed by Las Vegas Sands has dropped its emergency effort to shut down an “obstruction” campaign it alleges is underway by groups backed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The fight is over voter signatures for a Constitutional amendment drive. In Florida’s gambling wars, it appears that all new gambling initiatives are […]

Trial judge keeps feud between competing gambling efforts alive

By: - December 10, 2021

In an emergency hearing Friday regarding a campaign to amend Florida’s Constitution, advocates asked Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey to decide whether attempted sabotage of their efforts constitutes unlawful interference or just hard-ball competition. She declined to do so, denying an emergency motion to dismiss allegations that entities working for the Seminole Tribe of […]