Crist Confronts Resistance On Special Session

Looks like Charlie Crist is channelling Rahm Emanuel –  “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” 

This call for a special session is nothing more than a blatant attempt to take advantage of the oil spill in the Gulf to gain political capital.  At tax payers expense!  And, Crist comes out looking good, whether the Legislature supports his effort or not. 

In reality, it’s a political tactic to peel off the ‘environmental’ vote from the Democrat challenger.  More desperate theatrics from a truly desperate man. 

 

 

By Lloyd Dunkelberger
Herald Tribune

TALLAHASSEE – Florida’s environmental leaders are hoping that the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will lead to changes that they could hardly have dreamed of even a few weeks ago: a constitutional ban on oil drilling off the state’s coast and new laws requiring that more of the state’s energy be produced by solar and other renewable sources.

Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday he will call the Legislature back for a special session at the end of this month for what would amount to an environmental summit – and a 180-degree shift for a Legislature that has strongly considered allowing oil drilling within 3 miles of Florida’s coast and that has rejected renewable energy legislation for two straight years.

“I want to talk about wind, nuclear, solar, natural gas other alternative means to providing energy to our people in the wake of what has happened in the Gulf,” said Crist, who is running as an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate.

But to do so, Crist must first find enough support in the Republican-dominated Legislature, many members of which remain angry that the governor abandoned to the GOP late last month.

House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, said that the constitutional ban would duplicate state law prohibiting drilling near the shoreline and he described the governor’s proposed special session as “merely a political ploy to promote the future of politicians.”

“Drilling in Florida’s waters is currently banned by law and will remain so,” Cretul said in a statement. “There is no need for taxpayers to pay for a special session just to provide a platform for politicians to score points.”

Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, was more accommodating to the governor’s proposal, while noting the Senate had been “steadfast” in its opposition to allowing drilling near Florida’s beaches without a comprehensive review.

“However, one thing is clear — our energy use cannot be sustained by continuing the status quo,” Atwater said in a statement.

Atwater noted for the last two years, the Senate has backed renewable energy legislation, saying the chamber remains “committed to developing clean and renewable energy policies that place our state on a path to energy independence.”

But Atwater also noted a special session would cost around $40,000 a day and he urged Crist to find “common ground” with the House and Senate before calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee.

As governor, Crist has the power to unilaterally call lawmakers into a special session. Legislative leaders can also call a special session by a joint agreement between the House and Senate.

Crist declined to say whether he would call lawmakers back on his own or try to issue a joint proclamation with legislative leaders. But he indicated the session was a near certainty.

“I think it’s important that we go ahead and have a special session,” he said.

To put an amendment on the November general election ballot, Crist would have to get at least 72 votes in the 120-member House and 24 in the 40-member Senate. And then 60 percent of the voters would have to approve the measure.

“I think it’s appropriate for the people to have the opportunity to make this call,” Crist said. “I’m pretty confident of what the people will do.”

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Tom Tillison

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