Crist wants special session on spill; opponents call it politics

U.S. Senate candidate and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I) called for a special session of the state legislature Thursday for lawmakers to consider a constitutional amendment that would ban oil drilling off the coast of Florida.

From the Miami Herald:

At a hastily-called news conference, Crist said the session would be devoted to one issue — “a rifle shot,” he called it — to give the voters of Florida a say on drilling. But in doing so, he violated a cardinal rule of Tallahassee politics by calling for a special session without a consensus with legislative leaders.

“I feel a compelling duty to protect Florida,’’ Crist told reporters. “And I’m going to be governor for about six more months, and I think I wouldn’t be doing my duty as governor if I did not call for this special session.’’

Crist noted that the deadline is Aug. 4 for a proposed amendment to make it to the Nov. 2 ballot. He said the Senate sponsor of the proposed drilling ban will be Sen. J. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami, but no House sponsor has been selected. His announcement sets up a clash with the House, where Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, has publicly accused Crist of grandstanding on drilling.

Republican Marco Rubio quickly called the governor’s move nothing more than politics.

“The Obama/Crist response to the oil spill has been a total failure and Florida families and businesses are suffering because of it,” Rubio said in a statement. “This special session is nothing more than a political sideshow that will do nothing to help Panhandle businesses, keep oil off our beaches, or prevent future spills.”