May 11, 2010
Several media accounts have reported that Governor Charlie Crist is interested in calling legislators back to Tallahassee the week of May 24th to consider a possible constitutional ban on oil drilling in Florida’s territorial waters in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In addition, the Governor has expressed interest in considering legislation dealing with renewable energy policy.
Today, both presiding officers have released official statements on the possibility of a special session. At this time it seems as if the House and Senate are not inclined to bring legislators back to the Capitol. AIF will continue to keep our members informed of any developments as soon as they are made available.
“Right now state leaders should be focusing on protecting our state’s pristine coastlines and beaches, as well as those Floridians who may be impacted economically in the wake of this environmental disaster in the Gulf.
“Current state and federal law already bans drilling off the shores of Florida, and let me reaffirm that there are no efforts underway in the Legislature to change that. Bringing the Legislature back into special session to debate a constitutional amendment for November’s election that simply duplicates current law is neither immediately urgent nor truly in the best interests of protecting Floridians, or our environment, or our economy; it is merely a political ploy to promote the future of politicians.
“Further, the Governor was critical in a veto message during the past session of a legislative process he characterized as ‘legislation sped through committees without meaningful input.’ Surely any proposed amendment to the state Constitution warrants more than the hurried deliberation that such a special session would necessarily produce.
“During this time of crisis, our state resources and leadership should be focused on solving the real problem at hand, not fighting political campaigns at taxpayers' expense. Drilling in Florida's waters is currently banned by law and will remain so. There is no need for taxpayers to pay for a special session just to provide a platform for politicians to score political points."
Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach) today issued the following statement on the proposed Special Session.
"Since the issue of offshore drilling was first raised last year, I have been steadfast that there should be no change in the state law that bans offshore drilling without a comprehensive review of every policy implication.
However, one thing is clear; our energy use cannot be sustained by continuing the status quo. Thus, for 2 years the Florida Senate has proposed comprehensive, responsible legislation that would provide a common-sense path for increased clean and renewable energy use in Florida. The Senate is committed to developing clean and renewable energy policies that place our state on a path to energy independence. We are also mindful that Florida's families and small business owners are struggling to make ends meet; they cannot withstand additional financial burdens.
At time when our economy is facing record deficits, it is imperative that government use every dollar provided by Florida's taxpayers wisely. Thus, before we enter a special session, which could cost taxpayers upwards of $40,000 daily, we must find common ground with our partners in the Governor's office and Florida House. I have asked Governor Crist to submit energy legislation to us that would have minimal impact on Florida's rate-paying citizens and be mindful of the state of Florida's budget.
In the meantime, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to protect Florida's marine life and our pristine beaches, assist our local communities and small business owners who are affected by the Deepwater Horizon Spill, and hold those responsible for this catastrophe accountable."