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.

FDA halts use of monoclonal therapy widely pitched by DeSantis; Gov vows to fight back

By: - January 25, 2022

Regeneron monoclonal antibody therapy is not an effective treatment for COVID-19 omicron infections and can no longer be used, with just a few exceptions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday evening. The FDA also halted distribution of the Lilly brand of monoclonal antibody therapy for the same reason. But Gov. Ron DeSantis said […]

Land acquisition: FL senator tries again to secure funds for conservation program mandated by 2014 voters

By: - January 24, 2022

Despite a constitutional amendment in 2014 mandating a vigorous program to buy and preserve sensitive land in Florida, funding for the state’s Land Acquisition Trust Fund has been unreliable and by most accounts not what voters had in mind. On Monday, state Sen. Linda Stewart, an Orange County Democrat, reintroduced her annual effort to require […]

Civil-rights groups accuse south FL detention center of deleting video amid allegations of ‘inhumane’ treatment

By: - January 24, 2022

A Glades County jail being used as a federal detention center is illegally destroying video footage that could substantiate reports of abuse of migrants held there, according to complaint filed Monday by civil-rights organizations. Glades County is in rural, inland south Florida just west of Lake Okeechobee. The complaint is a letter to federal agencies […]

House panel splits on first redistricting map; critics say Latinos and Blacks are underrepresented

By: - January 21, 2022

Florida Democrats and voting-rights organizations mounted strong opposition Friday to newly drafted legislative district boundaries that nevertheless passed 13-7 in a redistricting subcommittee of the House of Representatives. The vote Friday split on partisan lines, with 13 Republicans voting yes and seven Democrats voting against the draft map. Among the criticisms was testimony that growth […]

Voting-rights groups sound alarm on latest FL redistricting maps, citing minority concerns

By: - January 18, 2022

Voting-rights organizations have been sounding alarms last week about redrawn legislative and Congressional district maps by the Florida Senate, over minority representation and lack of transparency. Meanwhile, the office of Gov. Ron DeSantis this weekend provided a Congressional map that also drew criticism. “This redistricting process is flying through the Legislature without adequate discussion or […]

Environmentalists in 6-year-old land-acquisition lawsuit fight to keep case alive

By: - January 14, 2022

The Florida Wildlife Federation and its allies in a six-year-old lawsuit to protect a constitutionally mandated land-acquisition program are pressing on, despite a judge’s ruling dismissing the case. Earlier this week, they filed a motion for reconsideration of a recent ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge E. Layne Smith, siding with the Florida Legislature in […]

Following Surfside tragedy: ‘Why are we punishing homeowners who are completely innocent?’

By: - January 13, 2022

In the wake of the deadly collapse of a South Florida condominium in Surfside in June, lawmakers in Tallahassee this week are pursuing legislation to protect builders from frivolous lawsuits. But Rick Nutter, speaking for the Florida Homeowners Association, complained the bill does not protect homeowners. The bill “will essentially make Florida the least consumer-friendly […]

DeSantis calls for more election ‘guardrails’; Biden says it is voting rights that need protection

By: - January 12, 2022

With mid-term elections in sight, Gov. Ron DeSantis added his take on voting rights and election integrity to his State of the State address this week, intensifying a state and national fight over making it harder or easier for Americans to vote. While continuing to imply that elections are vulnerable to fraud, DeSantis failed to […]

FL House redistricting process draws fire from voting-rights groups, Dems

By: - January 10, 2022

Republicans in the Florida House of Representatives who control the process of drawing new congressional and legislative district boundaries are drawing fire from a voting-rights coalition and from top-ranking Democrats. The two groups of critics say they have been given too little information to evaluate draft maps presented by committee staff last fall. The 2022 […]

FL Democrats cite housing, voting rights, fair tax policy among 2022 priorities

By: - January 10, 2022

Protecting affordable housing, voting rights and Florida elders while fighting corporate “handouts” funded by taxpayers are among the top priorities of Florida Democrats as they head into another legislative session as the underdog minority party in both chambers. In a 2022 legislative online kick-off rally Monday, Democratic legislators pledged to support people-centered policies in the […]

Gov. procures doses of Regeneron therapy, which CDC warns is weak against omicron

By: - January 7, 2022

Thousands of doses of Regeneron brand monoclonal antibody therapy are headed to Florida for treating early cases of COVID-19, even though national health authorities don’t recommend it for fighting infections with the strain dominant in Florida: omicron. The monoclonal antibody therapy, or mAb, that does work well against early infections with omicron COVID is sotrovimab, […]

DeSantis and his surgeon general focus on COVID treatments, mum on vaccines

By: - January 7, 2022

In public remarks this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his surgeon general Joseph Ladapo have ignored COVID vaccinations, instead aggressively embracing post-infection treatments, including some not authorized by national health authorities. In press conferences, DeSantis and Ladapo promoted the use of monoclonal antibody therapies, newly approved antiviral pills, and experimental drugs in clinical trials for […]