Florida GOP Smacks Down Charlie Crist; Blocks Debate Over Offshore Drilling Ban

In addition to being the Party of No, the Florida GOP seems to be the Party of Cutting Off the Nose To Spite the Face. Florida Governor Charlie Crist

In addition to being the Party of No, the Florida GOP seems to be the Party of Cutting Off the Nose To Spite the Face. Florida Governor Charlie Crist proposed an amendment to the Florida Constitution banning near offshore drilling off the Florida Coast for all time.

In Florida, the will of the people seems to matter less than party pique at Charlie Crists' choice to run for Senator as an Independent after they endorsed teabagger Marco Rubio as their golden boy.

As the legislature prepares for a special session with the aim of debating a constitutional ban on offshore oil drilling, a new poll shows that Floridians oppose drilling within 10 miles of Florida’s coast, and that 71 percent want a chance to vote on a ban (though the wording of that question does not mention a constitutional referendum).

But the Florida GOP saw it as an opportunity to play political potsie and slap Crist instead, closing the special session called by Crist to address the question after 49 minutes without a vote.

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.

Republicans' arguments seem to center around the fact that state law already prohibits offshore drilling. This is true. But as Californians discovered last year, state law can be changed when budgets are at risk of being blown out by a bad economy. Amazingly, approvals were considered for offshore exploration off the coast of Santa Barbara, the site of one of the worst oil spills in American history 40 years ago.

Was Crist's call political theater? Sure it was, but it also played for the majority of Floridians who rely on their beaches and tourist industries and who fear the possibility that thirst for oil and money will overwhelm their desire to preserve Florida's beauty and their livelihoods.

At least there's a clear record now for Floridians to consider.

(h/t Beach Peanuts)

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