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]

Statewide water quality bill poised to pass, amid mixed feelings

By: - March 9, 2020

Florida lawmakers are poised to adopt water-pollution cleanup legislation described as an historic advance or a weak measure. The sponsor, Sen. Debbie Mayfield, aimed to put in place recommendations of the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force, calling for reductions in pollution sources such as poorly maintained sewer systems, septic tanks, stormwater runoff, and agricultural runoff. […]

Term limits for utility regulation consumer advocate picks up major amendment in Senate

By: - March 6, 2020

Legislation to term-limit the state’s chief consumer advocate on regulation of electric and other utilities advanced in the Florida Senate Friday, although with an amendment grandfathering the advocate serving now. Bill sponsor Sen. Wilton Simpson, a central Florida Republican, said he was inspired by legislative term limits that apply to senators and House members. “The […]

Cruise lines ease cancellation policies amid coronavirus fears; VP Pence expected in FL for meetings

By: - March 6, 2020

Cruise lines began softening their cancellation policies this week, reflecting consumer concerns about the global spread of coronavirus and a few, high-profile reports of disease outbreaks at sea. Several cruise destinations, including locales in the Caribbean, are refusing to receive certain cruise ships to reduce spread of the virus, according to sources including Cruise Industry […]

Coronavirus: Fourth FL case confirmed while state waits on supply of testing kits

By: and - March 6, 2020

The number of confirmed infections with coronavirus was unchanged in Florida Friday, as compared to the day before, while the number of sick people testing negative for the virus actually increased to 55, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health. The online report confirms, as expected, a fourth positive case reported Thursday […]

Gov. DeSantis on coronavirus: We need more testing kits ASAP

By: and - March 5, 2020

Florida does not have enough testing kits to test patients for coronavirus and is asking the federal government for them, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday morning at a press conference in Quincy. “We don’t have them yet. We’d like to get them obviously as soon as possible,” DeSantis said. “To be able to do that […]

Public health monitoring ramps up; efforts to get coronavirus testing info by phone are futile

By: - March 4, 2020

Three days ago, 184 people in Florida were listed as undergoing public health monitoring for signs of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. Now the number is 247, according to statistics published by the Florida Department of Health. And Gov. Ron DeSantis said Wednesday in Orlando that since January, almost 1,000 people have […]

Amid virus fears, U.S. airlines shrink flights, waive change fees

By: - March 3, 2020

The three largest airlines in the United States are waiving flight-change policies on certain international flights because of COVID-19, caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus. American, Delta and, most recently, United airlines have announced change-fee waivers for designated flights, after suspending flights to numerous cities in Asia and Italy. On Thursday, the International Air Transport […]

Florida will expand testing of deadly coronavirus; Gov. DeSantis anticipates more cases

By: and - March 2, 2020

Florida authorities say they are widely expanding testing of the deadly coronavirus after state health officials reported two cases over the weekend in west-central Florida. Those coronavirus cases had been labeled “presumptive positive” late Sunday evening, but by Monday were confirmed. At issue is that Florida has not done a great deal of testing, therefore […]

Wrongful incarceration: Bills would revive exonerees’ rejected compensation claims

By: - March 2, 2020

People imprisoned in Florida for years for crimes they did not commit are due state compensation, but state law denies it to most of them. Legislators outraged about that are advancing bills to help exonerees claim as much as $50,000 for each year spent behind bars. Sen. Rob Bradley’s bill (SB 346) would extend the […]

Survivor recalls horrors of Holocaust and testifies about anti-Semitism

By: - February 27, 2020

A living reminder of the horrors of the Holocaust testified Thursday that she is grateful to have survived and wants the Holocaust to be forever remembered and never repeated. “Every day I think of the horrors we went through,” said Magda Bader, age 90, of Miami. Florida senators listened solemnly to her testimony in support […]

FL schools, businesses bracing for nationwide outbreak of coronavirus

By: and - February 27, 2020

With fears of a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus in the United States, Florida schools and universities are alerting students and families, holding press conferences and cancelling travel programs in response to a threat of the potentially deadly disease, known as COVID-19. “At this point, I’m not an alarmist,” said Alberto M. Carvalho, the superintendent […]

Senators on sentencing reform: Sometimes justice demands a second chance

By: - February 25, 2020

A package of criminal justice reforms that would put fewer Floridians behind bars was approved Tuesday by senators who said it represents justice overdue. “This will become the substantial criminal justice package for this year,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes, a Pinellas County Republican who has pushed for two years to overhaul Florida’s burgeoning criminal-justice system. […]