Oil Spill: Democrats Seek Special Session

May 6, 2010

Jim Ash

Pensacola News Journal

TALLAHASSEE --- Democrats are calling for a special session to put a drilling ban on the November ballot and Gov. Charlie Crist says he may be willing to go along.

A group of Democrats, including Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who is running for governor, 

issued a call this morning.

Appearing at a West Palm Beach elementary school to honor Teacher Appreciation Week, Crist told the Palm Beach Post, ““Obviously, in light of what’s happened recently in the Gulf of Mexico, those kinds of ideas we’re going to have to field,” the paper quoted him as saying. “Whether it’s in the form of a constitutional amendment or a special session remains to be seen.”

The Florida Wildlife Federation began drafting its own amendment last year after House Republicans, led by Speaker-designate Dean Cannon of Winter Park, passed a measure lifting Florida’s 20-year ban on drilling in near-shore waters. 

Sen. Mike Haridopolos, a Republican from Merritt Island who is next in line to be Senate president, was pushing the same legislation, but it was stopped cold by current President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach.

Both Haridopolos and Cannon have since said they are shelving their ideas. Crist stunned his 

environmental supporters in 2008 when he said he would support offshore drilling, a position he took when he was being considered as a potential running mate for Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee.

Here’s a copy of the Democratic press release:

Miami, FL— Joining together from coast to coast, CFO Alex Sink, State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach), and State Representatives Keith Fitzgerald (D-Sarasota) and Rick Kriseman (D-St. Petersburg) called on Governor Charlie Crist to reconvene the legislature for a special session to consider a constitutional amendment that would ban drilling off of Florida’s beaches. Hosting press conferences in Miami and St. Petersburg, the three lawmakers released proposed legislation they intend to file should the legislature be called into special session.

“I have seen the BP oil spill up close, spreading for miles. This evidence proves that near beach drilling in Florida is a disastrous idea -- we must never let oil companies drill just three miles off our beaches,” said Florida CFO Alex Sink. “Last year, oil companies spent millions on lobbyists and a PR spin machine and quickly passed near beach drilling through the Florida House. The people of Florida must send Legislators a message that we will not allow Florida’s economy to be put at risk or forget the painful lessons of this historic spill. It is for these times of crisis that the Governor has the power to call the legislature back to Tallahassee, and I hope Governor Crist will do so immediately to take up this important amendment to ban near beach drilling. This special session should also tackle the urgent economic and environmental issues which may 

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