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]


Progressives condemn the state’s conservative attacks on home rule

By: - January 23, 2020

Labor representatives, environmentalists, LGBTQ supporters, and others gathered in the Capitol Thursday to condemn legislative attacks on home rule that are killing progressive policies at the local level. The preemptions are designed to overrule local government bans on single-use plastics and foam containers and so-called conversion therapy; to protect trees and coral reefs; mandate worker-friendly […]

He didn’t do it: Exoneree Clifford Williams files claim for 43 years of wrongful incarceration

By: - January 22, 2020

A Jacksonville man innocent of the murder for which he served 43 years in state prison is free and may receive $2.15 million in compensation from the state of Florida for being wrongfully incarcerated. Clifford Williams, exonerated in March 2019 with help from Florida’s first conviction integrity unit, was in the Florida Capitol Wednesday to […]

ERA ratification: Proponents say looming battle will heat up courts and elections

By: - January 22, 2020

The Equal Rights Amendment, proposed in 1972 to guarantee that equality of rights shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex, has surged into the public spotlight after decades of neglect. Whether it becomes the 28th amendment enshrined in the U.S. Constitution will be decided in a series of court battles, but ERA […]

ERA Florida 1982

Marches will celebrate passage of ERA, as fight looms with GOP leaders

By: - January 17, 2020

Equal Rights Amendment activists will celebrate this weekend after lawmakers in Virginia on Wednesday made that state the pivotal 38th one to ratify the ERA, an achievement nearly 50 years in the making. Casting a cloud on the parade is notice that the federal office that archives important records will not accept Virginia’s ratification, having […]

Bipartisan Senate panel: It’s time to get low-level drug offenders out of state prison

By: - January 16, 2020

Florida lawmakers on a key Senate panel want to keep low-level offenders out of state prison, particularly drug offenders who need treatment, not incarceration. The panel — the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee — voted unanimously to reform criminal sentencing guidelines to accomplish that goal, with both Republicans and Democrats supportive of the measure. The concept […]

The Everglades

Florida will buy 20,000 acres in Everglades to block oil-drilling plan

By: - January 15, 2020

The state will buy 20,000 acres of wetlands in the Florida Everglades for no less than $16.5 million to block the possibility of oil-drilling there, officials announced Wednesday. It’s not a certainty that the owner, Kanter Real Estate LLC, would have struck oil there or would actually have tried to, but it recently secured an […]

‘Greener’ GOP still stalling on clean energy and climate change in FL

By: - January 15, 2020

Florida Republicans belatedly acknowledging climate change and its harm to the state are looking ‘greener’ than they have in decades, but critics say it takes more than an awakening to make up for long-term environmental neglect. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said in his State of the State address Tuesday that he is taking a “bold […]

University of Florida

Prepaid tuition program issuing refunds to thousands of families, worth $511 million

By: - January 13, 2020

About 224,000 families in the popular Florida Prepaid College Program will receive refunds or rate reductions, officials announced Monday, with the refunds averaging $4,700 and totaling a half a billion dollars. Refunds and rate reductions to offset the overpayments are worth $1.3 billion. Officials explained that tuition rates and fees did not rise as much […]

Source: Florida Department of Environmental Protection

League of Cities takes aim at FL crisis in water quality and supply

By: - January 10, 2020

Florida’s water needs this decade will grow by 20 percent and remediation of drinking water infrastructure will cost $18 billion, making water resources a top legislative priority for the Florida League of Cities, an advocacy organization representing more than 400 cities and towns. Rebecca O’Hara, the league’s deputy general counsel, told reporters this week that […]

ERA Florida 1982

Trump, three states try to block ERA as it heads to historic milestone. But no traction in FL on ratifying

By: - January 10, 2020

Equal Rights Amendment supporters in Florida cheered an important Senate committee vote Thursday in Virginia — which is expected to become the final state needed to ratify the federal ERA. But the five-decades-old proposition faces new legal battles backed by the Trump Administration that could tie up the measure for some time. And in Florida, […]

Hemp rules: CBD in food and animal feed now regulated; permits to grow hemp still on hold

By: - January 7, 2020

Rules regulating use of hemp extract in food, dairy products and animal feed in Florida took effect Jan. 1, but growers eager for permits to cultivate hemp here are still on hold. “We’re proud to roll out these final rules for CBD in food and dairy products, open applications for hemp food establishment permits, and ensure our […]

Analysis: Preemption is ‘heavy-handed’ tool to suppress local governments

By: - January 6, 2020

Policy analysts said Monday that state lawmakers’ use of a strategy called preemption is increasingly striking down local government decisions, particularly progressive regulations more popular in Florida’s largely Democratic cities than in the Republican-led Florida Legislature. “The use of preemption as a strategy by the Florida Legislature has become heavy-handed,” said Ben Wilcox, research director […]