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.

Gov signs property-insurance overhaul; market is still in freefall as hurricane season opens next week

By: - May 26, 2022

A package of property-insurance measures adopted in special session this week by the Florida Legislature are now in effect, signed into law Thursday by Gov. Ron DeSantis amid projections that still more insurance companies will fail in coming weeks. That would leave tens of thousands more homeowners scrambling to find insurance coverage in the opening […]

hurricane cleanup

GOP-controlled FL Legislature OKs property-insurance overhaul; some Dems call it a bailout

By: and - May 25, 2022

Legislation intended to shore up Florida’s crumbling insurance industry is ready to send to Gov. Ron DeSantis to sign following a three-day special session of the Florida Legislature to address the deteriorating marketplace, skyrocketing premiums, and widespread policy cancellations on the eve of hurricane season. The state Senate adopted the package on Tuesday and the […]

FL Senate passes property-insurance rescue bill, despite lacking prompt relief for consumers

By: - May 24, 2022

The Florida Senate voted 30-9 to adopt a property-insurance bill to help Florida’s collapsing marketplace, despite admissions that more companies will fail and more policies will be cancelled after June 1. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives, where a companion bill adopted Tuesday in the House Appropriations Committee awaits. Sen. Jim Boyd, […]

Senate Dems call GOP property-insurance bill a ‘$2 billion tax giveaway’; Republicans defend plan

By: - May 24, 2022

Florida Senate Democrats tried dozens of times Tuesday morning, to no avail, to alter the course of a GOP-sponsored property-insurance bill heading for passage that they say fails to promptly aid homeowners facing steep rate hikes and policy cancellations on the cusp of hurricane season. Senate Bill 2-D, one of two bills spotlighted in this […]

FL senators blast state handling of property insurance

By: - May 23, 2022

Florida senators from both political parties came out swinging Monday – the opening day of the Legislature’s special session on the property insurance crisis – strongly suggesting state government has botched the state’s property-insurance marketplace and still cannot fix it. Florida Sen. Jeff Brandes, Pinellas County Republican, who has long clamored for property-insurance reform, and […]

FL lawmakers unveil property-insurance fixes but market has ‘further devolved’

By: - May 22, 2022

Creating a $2 billion reinsurance fund to help insurance companies pay catastrophic claims is a good idea but it is unclear whether it can significantly ease Florida’s property-insurance crisis. Establishment of that fund to, in essence, provide hard-to-come-by stability for Florida insurance companies, is the hallmark of proposed legislation unveiled late Friday by Republican leaders […]

Property insurance fix: It won’t be about lowering rates

By: - May 20, 2022

Lawmakers, consumers and business interests should manage their expectations next week as the Florida Legislature convenes in special session to address the state’s property-insurance crisis. Foremost for consumers, according to two experts: Soaring property-insurance rates will not decline. “Anyone suggesting otherwise is creating a false sense of security and hope,” said Fred Karlinsky, co-chair of […]

As climate in FL sets ‘new normal,’ cost of property insurance will separate haves and have-nots

By: - May 19, 2022

Florida lawmakers poised to act against soaring property-insurance rates may address allegations of insurance fraud and may manage to lure jittery reinsurance companies back into Florida’s crippled marketplace. But one thing they can’t do is change the weather. “Insurers believe that due to climate change, this is the new normal. They’re finding that catastrophic and […]

Alimony bill in limbo as pending divorce actions pile up

By: - May 13, 2022

The Family Law Section of the Florida Bar wants Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto 2022 legislation that would make dramatic changes to state law on alimony, and the sooner the better. Lawyers in that section of the Bar say pending divorce and child custody actions are stalled and piling up. As of noon Friday, state […]

Fried seeks EPA help to prevent ‘catastrophic’ damage to FL wetlands

By: - May 12, 2022

Federal environmental regulators should take over wetlands permitting in Florida to prevent “catastrophic” environmental damage where development and sensitive lands are in conflict, says Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried. At issue is a late-2020 decision, in the final months of the Trump administration, to transfer authority over wetlands permitting from the U.S. […]

Federal EPA: Florida must do more to curb pollution killing manatees

By: - May 11, 2022

Mass starvation of manatees in Florida’s polluted Indian River Lagoon demonstrates “the need for accelerated action by the state of Florida” to staunch pollutants fouling their habitat, says the Southeast Region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In a statement issued late Tuesday, EPA’s Southeast region administrator, Daniel Blackman, wrote that the pollution flowing into […]

Mass starvation of manatees impels federal lawsuit over FL water pollution

By: - May 10, 2022

The mass starvation of manatees in Florida last year was caused by preventable water pollution, and state government should be forced to clean up the state’s waterways, says a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of three major environmental groups. More than 1,100 manatees died last year – an unprecedented number — mainly of starvation, […]