House Closes Oil-Drilling Special Session After 49 Minutes

Editor’s Note – Now who was it that said they’d be home by supper time???

“We call your ‘special session’ and raise you an adjournment…”

35200_florida-legislatureHouse Closes Oil-Drilling Special Session After 49 Minutes

By Josh Hafenbrack, Tallahassee Bureau
Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE – In dramatic political theater, the Republican-led Florida House rejected Gov. Charlie Crist’s call for a constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling near Florida’s shores, calling it a “simple solution designed to produce sound bites, photo-ops and political attacks.”

A special session called by Crist lasted just 49 minutes in the House – from 12:02 p.m. to 12:51 p.m. – before legislators beat a path out of Tallahassee without any hearings or votes, despite objections from Democrats. It likely cost taxpayers around $40,000 to $50,000 for lawmakers to travel to the Capitol for the short-lived special session.

The vote to adjourn the session, without a vote on the drilling ban, broke down along party lines, 67-44.

House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, blasted the governor for playing politics in calling lawmakers back to Tallahassee and said that legislators might entertain a drilling amendment next year for the 2012 ballot – in the “calm after the crisis.” Cretul also told lawmakers they’ll likely be back in September, in another special session, to address financial fallout from the BP spill.

Crist, a former Republican, is running for U.S. Senate as an independent. The governor and legislative leaders from his former party now harbor deep animosity toward each other, and have no working relationship. Crist said he and Cretul had “zero” communication before Tuesday’s session.

The governor “called us here at the last possible moment to consider a constitutional amendment for which he never proposed language and permitted far too little time for reflection and review,” Cretul said in a short speech from the House floor. “That is a terrible way to propose constitutional changes.”

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