In an attempt to add a constitutional amendment to ban oil drilling in Florida waters to the November ballot, Governor Charlie Crist has called a special session of the Florida legislature to begin today and lasting until Friday.
A Miami Herald article set the scene last week:
“In a poisonous political atmosphere, it now appears that nothing will be accomplished next week, and the hostility between the independent governor and Republican-led Legislature will be worse than ever.
In the House, acrimony toward Crist remains intense over his decision to quit the Republican Party to save his U.S. Senate aspirations. House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, called the drilling ban “symbolic and perhaps even smoke and mirrors,” and would not say whether he would let members vote.”
“Whether it gets to the floor or not, who knows?” Cretul said in an interview. “I suspect we’ll have a lot of lengthy debate about that.” Adding, “You can expect your stay to be very short next week.”
As reported here, a constitutional ban on oil drilling has little public support, and even if passed by the legislature, is unlikely to garner the 60% majority it needs to become law in November.
In an interesting twist, and providing a likely explanation of the dilemma facing lawmakers, CBS News 4 observes:
“If they reject Crist’s proposal to amend the constitution, they would look like they are siding with BP.
If they pass it, Crist gets a victory he can trumpet as he campaigns against his GOP opponent Marco Rubio, a former state House speaker.”
It appears that the Florida government has also learned the value of never letting a good crisis go to waste. On one hand the governor seems to be using the oil spill as an opportunity to score some electoral points against his competition. On the other, the Republican majority in the legislature holds the ability to prevent such legislation reaching the House floor, rendering any prospective campaign advantage moot. Did any of them stop to think “what’s good for Florida”?