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]

Coalition demands FL hearings on Equal Rights Amendment

By: - November 25, 2019

Legislation to guarantee women the same rights as men has stalled in certain lawmaking bodies around the nation. Since 1972. That includes Florida, which has the opportunity to be the state that tips the balance toward adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment into the U.S. Constitution. On Friday, two dozen elected officials and community activists […]

Deadly coral disease has spread through Great Florida Reef

By: - November 21, 2019

A disease killing stony coral in the Great Florida Reef now infects half the corals from Martin County to the Lower Keys, marine scientists reported this fall. The Great Florida Reef is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States and one of the world’s largest. Stony coral tissue loss disease, whose […]

Emotions run high as divided citrus panel votes down tax increase for marketing; some growers fear collapse, and unsold OJ languishes

By: - November 20, 2019

While millions of gallons of unsold orange juice languish in storage, the newly reshuffled and divided Florida Citrus Commission defeated proposals Wednesday to increase the tax Florida citrus growers self-impose for marketing. Growers are having trouble selling their harvests because buyers are importing citrus from Brazil and Mexico. On split votes, commissioners twice voted down […]

Environmentalists: Gov. DeSantis’ budget falls short of pent-up needs

By: - November 19, 2019

Representing a new theme song for environmental issues in Florida, observers say Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is doing better than his predecessors but is not doing enough to overcome decades of degradation of sensitive lands and water quality. Commenting on the budget plan DeSantis released Monday, critics said his proposed funding of $2 billion for […]

Gov. DeSantis shuffles Citrus Commission membership ahead of major tax vote

By: - November 18, 2019

Five days ahead of a big tax vote on the Florida Citrus Commission, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday replaced three members of the panel. The new commissioners take the place of three predecessors who had been serving on the commission despite their terms expiring up to 18 months ago. The new appointees are Paul Meador, […]

Citrus growers’ new crisis: They’re producing fruit again but can’t sell it

By: - November 18, 2019

Florida citrus growers who manage against steep odds to produce oranges, grapefruit and tangerines this winter and spring will see some of it fall to the ground and rot — but not because of severe weather or a calamitous epidemic of citrus greening. It will go to waste because they can’t sell it. For growers […]

Senators to hemp experts: Do we know what we’re doing?

By: - November 15, 2019

Aside from myriad unknowns about farming hemp in Florida, there’s no clear path to develop manufacturing facilities here in the event that eager researchers and farmers figure out how to cultivate this new crop. “I’ve watched other states make this mistake. If there’s no one there to buy it, if there’s no one there to […]

Democrats denounce GOP preemption bills for stifling fight against climate change

By: - November 14, 2019

Democratic lawmakers in Florida demanding clean-energy and climate-change policies said Wednesday that the first thing Republicans can do to help is stop blocking local ordinances that aim to protect the environment. “The trend, almost uniformly, is local governments trying to do progressive things,” said Sen. Jose Javier-Rodriguez, representing part of Miami-Dade. “The Republican conservative legislators […]

Global warming puts heat on military bases – Florida installations included

By: - November 13, 2019

Spiking incidence of heat stroke and heat exhaustion among U.S. service personnel is requiring military leaders to ramp up prevention and response, according to a report published this year by the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. That’s because of climate change, which will compound extreme heat by mid-century in the absence of rapid action to […]

Senate budget chief: ‘You can’t incarcerate your way out of crime’

By: - November 12, 2019

Nonviolent drug felons don’t belong in Florida’s expensive, overcrowded prisons, says state Sen. Rob Bradley, a prosecutor and a Republican, and the Senate Criminal Justice Committee agreed Tuesday, approving a plan to establish alternatives for many offenders. Bradley, who represents part of north central Florida and chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, is sponsoring legislation to […]

USDA authorizes $380 million in timber relief for hurricane victims

By: - November 11, 2019

Timber growers who sustained $1.3 billion in losses in north Florida due to Hurricane Michael in October 2018 are in line for $380.7 million in aid from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. State officials announced the funding Friday, 13 months after the Category 5 hurricane struck the region and devastated timber in 11 counties. Timber […]

Long-awaited water-quality funding could ‘transform’ Florida

By: - November 7, 2019

Requesting a second year of record funding for water-quality projects, Florida’s top environmental official told state senators Thursday that dedicated annual funding could transform Florida following years of under-investment. “We’ve got Everglades restoration on steroids now,” said Noah Valenstein, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “You’re looking in the next three to four […]