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.

‘First Wives’ urge DeSantis to veto reform that lets wealthy ex-husbands undo alimony pledges

By: - March 18, 2022

They call themselves the “First Wives” club, but unlike their Hollywood counterparts, they say they are the ones in the crosshairs. Camille Fiveash of Pensacola said she was pushed and shoved in the halls of the Florida Capitol, stalked, and tormented with death threats. She and other women, whose ex-husbands want to relieve themselves of […]

Early wildfires in Panhandle point to worsening fire season to come

By: - March 8, 2022

Nearly 34,000 acres statewide were on fire in Florida Tuesday, most of it on timberlands in the Panhandle, where Hurricane Michael in 2018 leveled millions of pine trees that remain on the ground ready to burn. “When you have this much timber that’s still on the ground, all it takes is one small spark and […]

FL House poised to vote on congressional districts: both DeSantis’ plan and backup

By: - March 4, 2022

The Florida House’s two-tiered approach to congressional redistricting – proposing a “primary” plan submitted by Gov. Ron DeSantis and a “secondary” plan crafted by House members in case judges strike down the first – fails to take a stand on a critical minority voting-rights dispute, Democrats argued Thursday. Both plans differ from the state Senate’s […]

FL high court OKs new legislative voting maps; congressional plans still embroiled in dispute

By: - March 3, 2022

The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday approved maps redrawing 120 state House districts and 40 state Senate districts that will govern elections for the coming decade. At the same time, Florida lawmakers are embroiled in a heated dispute over minority representation in proposed congressional voting districts. The ruling on legislative districts has no bearing on […]

Flooding in Florida: House plan omits efforts to get to root of water woes

By: - March 2, 2022

One day after an international scientific panel warned that climate change has begun causing “irreversible” damage to the planet and its forms of life, the Florida House of Representatives refused Tuesday to add clean-energy solutions to its legislative plan to defend the state against climate-induced sea-level rise and flooding. The House also advanced a net-metering […]

Corrections nominee would face woefully inadequate prison staffing; environmental protection head would face ‘power grab’

By: - February 28, 2022

The acting head of Florida’s beleaguered prison system advanced toward confirmation after reiterating to state senators at a hearing Monday that staffing and programming remain woefully inadequate. The senators voted Monday to recommend Ricky Dixon for confirmation as secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, and they voted to recommend confirmation of Shawn Hamilton as […]

Election laws: FL Senate Dems fight changes they say are built on fear tactics

By: - February 24, 2022

Black state senators on Thursday condemned plans to further tighten how Florida regulates voters — including creating an elections police force — with one of them describing the effort as rife with “fear tactics” built on misinformation. “Fear tactics is what divides people. And much of that is what’s in part of this bill [Senate […]

Climate-induced flooding: FL planning its defense but leaves causes unaddressed

By: - February 22, 2022

Sea-level rise and inland flooding that will damage thousands of homes and cause billions of dollars in real-estate losses in Florida were high-priority subjects Tuesday in a Senate Appropriations hearing. That subcommittee approved two bills authorizing a defense, but neither attempts to reduce air pollution that causes climate change and worsening flooding. The Senate Appropriations […]

With gambling expansion in disarray, FL Senate moves ahead with new gaming commission

By: - February 17, 2022

Although Florida’s 2021 compact to expand gambling statewide was struck down in federal court, the Florida Senate Thursday forged ahead with development of a Florida Gaming Control Commission created alongside the compact to regulate expanded gambling. The Nov. 22 ruling is being appealed, with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the Department of Interior and the […]

DeSantis pitches FL for ‘Vacation To Freedom’ from COVID restrictions — despite continued pandemic

By: - February 15, 2022

The governor who once ordered inbound motorists and air travelers from COVID hot spots to self-isolate before traveling within Florida now invites the world to come for a “vacation to freedom.” “You can come to Florida and you can do what you want to do. You’re not going to be forced to show medical papers. […]

FL TaxWatch calls for restoration of Ocklawaha River ecosystem

By: - February 15, 2022

An environmental mistake that killed a river and drowned at least 20 natural freshwater springs in north-central Florida should be undone by Florida lawmakers, government watchdog Florida TaxWatch reported Tuesday in an analysis of the long-dammed Ocklawaha River. The report – titled “A River (No Longer) Runs Through It” — says legislators should breach the […]

Congressional redistricting: FL Supreme Court says no to DeSantis

By: - February 10, 2022

In a victory for voting-rights organizations, the Florida Supreme Court will not grant Gov. Ron DeSantis’ wish for an advisory opinion on congressional redistricting that critics said would short-circuit the legislative process. Instead, five justices issued a unanimous order declining to exercise their discretion to issue such an opinion, citing in part their lack of […]