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.

White House says Gov. DeSantis has reversed course, now ordering COVID vaccines for kids under 5

By: , and - June 17, 2022

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday was still refusing to order COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, for the country’s youngest children. But by Friday, the governor had “reversed course and is now ordering vaccines,” according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. “We are encouraged that after repeated failures by Governor DeSantis to order COVID-19 […]

U.S. trial judge nixes Florida caps on donations for citizen initiatives

By: - June 16, 2022

A federal judge in North Florida Wednesday struck down two Republican-backed laws that critics said would unfairly limit the rights of citizens to amend the state’s Constitution. Adopted in 2021, Senate Bill 1890 would have capped at $3,000 individual donations to political action committees that support or oppose proposed constitutional amendments. The American Civil Liberties […]

EPA: ‘Forever chemicals’ more toxic than first thought; at least 87 FL sites deemed contaminated

By: - June 15, 2022

Two kinds of toxic “forever chemicals” widely found in drinking water after decades of use in consumer products and certain industries are more dangerous than previously thought, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday. The EPA issued stricter health guidelines for those Wednesday, ahead of plans to adopt national drinking water standards next year. In […]

FL’s insurer of last resort faces hurricane season with shortfall of reinsurance coverage

By: - June 14, 2022

Like some private insurers, Florida’s state-run property insurance corporation has been unable to acquire all the reinsurance coverage it needs to cover risks posed by hurricanes and other threats in the coming year. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state’s insurer of last resort, has acquired about one-third of the back-up coverage it has been seeking, […]

Protests against gun violence spread across FL and the nation Saturday: What will come from it?

By: , and - June 11, 2022

A day after GOP lawmakers in the Legislature blocked a special session on expanded gun restrictions, Florida Democrats, other politicians, activists and citizens held rallies Saturday to protest continuing gun violence that has shocked the nation in recent weeks. The protests were scheduled from Alaska to Maine to Washington D.C. and down to Florida and […]

FL Congresswoman on Jan. 6 panel: Defend American democracy or ‘we could lose it’

By: - June 10, 2022

Florida Republicans were mostly quiet on social media last night during the first scheduled public hearing of the U.S. House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the nation’s Capitol. So was U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat serving on the investigative committee, which let Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, and […]

Everglades: Gov vetoes pet project of FL Senate President, who is an Ag Commissioner candidate

By: - June 8, 2022

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday he has vetoed Senate Bill 2508, an Everglades-related pet project of outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson that was hotly opposed by environmental groups and South Florida fishermen. Introduced late in the Florida Legislature’s regular session last winter, SB 2508 had only one hearing before reaching a final vote in the […]

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 https://myfloridacfo.com/mysafeflhome.  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 […]