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]

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 […]

As climate in FL sets ‘new normal,’ cost of property insurance will separate haves and have-nots

By: - May 19, 2022

Florida lawmakers poised to act against soaring property-insurance rates may address allegations of insurance fraud and may manage to lure jittery reinsurance companies back into Florida’s crippled marketplace. But one thing they can’t do is change the weather. “Insurers believe that due to climate change, this is the new normal. They’re finding that catastrophic and […]

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 […]