The Florida House and Senate convened a Special Session today, called by Governor Charlie Crist, to place an amendment on the November ballot that would enshrine Florida’s prohibition against nearshore oil drilling in the Florida Constitution.
While Florida has a drilling ban in statute, that law has narrowly escaped being overturned in the last two legislative sessions by legislators at the behest of the oil industry.
The decision before legislators today was whether they would allow the people to decide on a permanent oil drilling ban. If 60 percent of voters agreed this November, the prohibition would have become constitutional, removing the Legislature’s ability to overturn it.
Rather than consider the measure, the House decided it would rather not let the people vote. In a strategy described by some as “gavel and go,” the House convened and a majority voted to adjourn without taking up the constitutional amendment resolution. See how your representative voted here (a “yes” vote was a vote to adjourn the session without considering the drilling ban amendment. “No” votes wanted the issue to be heard.)
The Florida Senate convened shortly before the House adjourned, discussed the issue briefly and also voted to adjourn without considering the matter. Senators Paula Dockery (R-Lakeland), Mike Fasano (R-New Port Richey), and bill sponsor Alex Villalobos (R-Miami), dissented that the public deserved for them to vote on the constitutional amendment, even if it could not be placed on the ballot without House concurrence. Nevertheless, the Senate voted to adjourn without a vote on the drilling ban. See how your senator voted here (again, a “yes” vote was a vote to adjourn the session without considering the issue).
Hundreds of Floridians from around the state converged on the Capitol today to urge the Legislature to let the people vote and were essentially ignored by this swift decision. The House of Representatives’ behavior today was a sobering display of the petroleum industry’s influence in the political process at the expense of the people of Florida.