State senate committee to investigate oil blow-out economic fall-outby Dara Kam | July 2nd, 2010
A state select committee on the economy will look into the financial fall-out from the Deepwater Horizon on the Panhandle.
The Senate Select Committee on the Economy will hold its first meeting in Pensacola on July 12.
The committee, headed by Sen. Don Gaetz, wants to hear from local property owners and business owners, among others, to see what if anything state lawmakers can do to help ease the financial strain on the tourism-dependent region.
Gov. Charlie Crist has been pushing lawmakers to hold a special session on oil to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot letting voters decide whether to ban drilling off Florida’s coast. Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said last week he would support a special session on oil sooner rather than later, but GOP House leaders indicated they would rather postpone a special session until after the November general election.
Among the items Gaetz siad his committee will consider: possible tax relief for property owners whose businesses have been struck by revenue shortfalls, the drawn-out claims process, and possible relaxation of environmental regulations to speed up economic recovery.
“This catastrophe is metastasizing daily,” Gaetz, R-Niceville, said in a press release. “Floridians are losing their jobs, business income is slumping and local governments are rapidly burning through their scant reserves. Every barrel of oil that pumps into the Gulf of Mexico poisons the economy of Florida.”
The committee will also review “barriers to an aggressive response” by government officials and BP regarding the economic impact of the oil disaster, the press release said.