No plan yet on oil drilling special session

A special session is only a week away but no firm plan has been reached by House and Senate leaders on what should happen.

Gov. Charlie Crist wants lawmakers to put a constitutional ban on oil drilling on the November ballot, but House leaders remain opposed to it. The question, however, is whether legislators are willing to come to Tallahassee and do nothing.

“I don’t know what’s going to transpire,’’ said Rep. Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton and House Speaker Pro Tempore.

A spokeswoman for Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, said there would need to be an agreement between the chambers to expand the “call” or the official agenda for the session which is currently limited to the constitutional ban on oil drilling. It is not clear when or if the call will be expanded.

Jill Chamberlin, spokeswoman for House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, said in an e-mail, “The issue of a special session is under review. That’s all.”

Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Pembroke Park, said he will introduce a bill to require that utilities receive at least 5 percent of their energy from renewable sources. That’s far less than the 20 percent proposed by Crist in 2007 and which the Legislature refused to approve in 2009. Gibbons said if the scope of the session is expanded beyond the drilling ban, it should include only energy issues and providing tax relief for Panhandle residents affected by the oil spill.

“If we accomplished that much it would be an extreme success,” he said.

Mark Hollis, a spokesman for the House Democratic Caucus, said House Republican leaders were keeping session details close to their chest. “Nobody knows” what will happen next week, Hollis said. “They’re not saying what they are going to do.”

Rick Scott, a GOP candidate for governor, wants legislators to pass an immigration measure similar to one adopted in Arizona. He even launched a radio ad on Tuesday urging them to do so. Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa, on Tuesday filed three bills dealing with immigration.

It would take a two-thirds vote by both chambers to take up any issue not included in the special session call issued last week by Crist.

(Story provided by The Florida Tribune with Gary Fineout contributing. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting