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]

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 […]

Critics say Trump’s partial ban on vape flavors fails to protect kids

By: - January 3, 2020

Candy- and fruit-flavored e-cigarette products popular with teen smokers will be temporarily banned by the Trump Administration, which backed down from its pledge four months ago to “clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes.” Menthol products are exempt, though studies say they’re popular with teens. The National Youth Tobacco Survey estimates that 64 percent of high-school-age […]

Youth climate-change lawsuit: We have a right to grow to adulthood safely

By: - January 3, 2020

Eight Florida teenagers and children are suing the state of Florida for protection against climate change, saying they have a fundamental right to grow up in a healthy atmosphere. Motions in the case will be heard in court Wednesday in Tallahassee, more than a year and a half after the youths filed the lawsuit in […]

solar rooftop

Harnessing sun power: Florida and California taking different paths to solar

By: - January 2, 2020

On opposite coasts, Florida and California are both famous for sunshine. But their approaches to harnessing sunshine for power are as disparate as their coastlines. Starting Jan. 1, California building codes now require that new homes be built to run on solar power, affecting an estimated 100,000 new homes per year. The standards contained in […]

CDC: Amid vaping epidemic and marketing push, states underfund anti-tobacco programs

By: - December 30, 2019

State spending on programs to prevent tobacco use in Florida amounts to one-third of what the Centers for Disease Control recommends, while the tobacco industry spends eight times that much marketing its products here, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. In its “Broken Promises” analysis, the Cancer Action Network, a non-profit advocacy […]

A new kind of prosecutor helps overturn wrongful convictions

By: - December 20, 2019

Seventy-two people who have collectively served hundreds of years behind bars in Florida for crimes such as sexual assault and murder have something vitally important in common. They didn’t do it. They include 29 who languished on Death Row, sentenced to execution for murders they did not commit. Twenty of the 72 were exonerated by […]