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]

Labor report: As demand for workers increases, FL cuts unemployment benefits

By: - July 16, 2021

Florida’s labor report Friday cites 69,300 new private-sector jobs in the economy over the past month and an increase of 907,000 jobs since the COVID-19 pandemic forced 1.3 million workers off their jobs in spring 2020 to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Still, 523,000 Florida workers were unemployed in June, comprising 5 percent of […]

FL’s competing gambling interests pour at least $62 million into PACs

By: - July 13, 2021

Gambling-related campaign contributions flooded into Florida in June, according to campaign finance records, indicating the immensity of the gambling wealth up for grabs in the state. On Monday, the Florida Phoenix reported that sports-betting titans FanDuel and DraftKings poured $20 million into a campaign to legalize sports betting by amending the Florida Constitution in 2022. […]

Statue of Florida’s Mary McLeod Bethune heading to the nation’s Capitol, replacing Confederate image

By: - July 12, 2021

A statue of prominent Florida educator and civil rights advocate Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune is on its way to the U.S. Capitol — after at least six years of efforts — where it will be the first in the National Statuary Hall to commemorate an African American from any state. The path to the Statuary […]

FanDuel and DraftKings pump $20 million into sports-betting initiative for the 2022 ballot

By: - July 12, 2021

Sports-betting titans FanDuel and DraftKings poured $20 million in June into a campaign to legalize sports betting by amending the Florida Constitution in 2022, according to campaign finance records reported Monday afternoon by a political action committee. The report was announced by Florida Education Champions, a sports-betting PAC waging the constitutional amendment campaign bankrolled by […]

Proud Boys, other groups, rally at FL’s Old Capitol to demand release of “patriots” from Jan. 6 insurrection

By: , and - July 10, 2021

Dozens of protestors came to the Florida Capitol Saturday to demand release of “incarcerated patriots” arrested in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Those rallying waved American flags and banners emblazoned with “Don’t Tread On Me,” “76” and “We the People.” Cars honked as they passed by, some shouting words of support to […]

City of Key West plans to resist state interference in local votes to limit cruise ships

By: - July 9, 2021

Following the enactment of a state law striking down Key West’s voter-approved limits on cruise ships, city officials and residents will meet Monday to decide how to fight back. Key West voters adopted three referenda last November to cut back on cruise ship traffic in their port and the number of passengers that come ashore […]

Vietnam vets to unveil memorial in FL capital for POWs and MIAs; thousands unaccounted for

By: - July 8, 2021

A memorial in honor of military personnel who were taken prisoner or went missing in action during the Vietnam War will soon be erected near the Florida Capitol. Legislation authorizing placement of the POW-MIA memorial alongside Florida’s Vietnam War Memorial was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis late last month. The memorial will be […]

Pro-gambling and anti-gambling forces take aim at FL compact with Seminole Tribe from different angles

By: - July 7, 2021

Pro-gambling and anti-gambling forces appear to be united in fighting Florida’s new, high-dollar gambling compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. But for different reasons, of course. Still under review by federal Indian gaming authorities, the compact ratified by the Florida Legislature in mid-May already has attracted a legal challenge […]

gun training class

New FL law allows guns in schools co-located with churches; critics opposed expansion of gun rights

By: - July 2, 2021

A new Florida law that expands rights to carry concealed firearms and erodes Florida’s prohibition of guns on school property is now in effect. The Republican-backed measure passed the Legislature this spring as Senate Bill 259 and was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday. Sen. Joe Gruters, a southwest Florida Republican and chairman […]

‘Gail’s Law’ becomes FL law; sexual-assault survivors win fight for tracking of rape kits

By: - July 1, 2021

Gail’s Law, requiring tracking of evidence obtained in rape kits, is now law – bringing to a close a disturbing chapter in the lives of Florida’s sexual assault victims. For decades, evidence such as blood and semen has been collected in rape kits during physical examinations of rape victims, but hundreds of thousands of the […]

Federal court blocks FL limit on financial help for citizen’s constitutional amendment drives

By: - July 1, 2021

A federal court on Thursday blocked implementation of a new Florida law capping campaign contributions that support citizen-initiated efforts to amend the Florida Constitution. The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and other voting-rights interests persuaded Judge Allen Winsor, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, that the cap may cripple […]

Policing reforms to reduce violence against minorities and others take effect immediately

By: - June 30, 2021

New limits on use of force by police, new training standards, and greater focus on identifying dangerous police practices are now in effect in Florida, though Black legislative leaders say those efforts don’t go far enough. House Bill 7051, the package of policing reforms negotiated this spring by members of Florida’s Legislative Black Caucus and […]