The Associated Press July 20, 2010, 2:41PM ET

Fla. House adjourns oil drilling session, no vote

The Republican-controlled Florida House abruptly ended a special session just 43 minutes after it began without voting on Gov. Charlie Crist's proposed state constitutional amendment to ban offshore drilling in state waters.

The nearly party-line vote to adjourn may have dealt a legislative defeat in record time to Crist, who quit the GOP to run for the U.S. Senate as an independent. But the move handed Crist, as well as Democrats, a campaign issue.

Crist had called lawmakers into special session in a bid to put the drilling ban on the November ballot in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which has fouled Panhandle beaches and put the rest of the state's tourism industry under a cloud.

Republicans say the amendment isn't needed because state law already bans drilling and that the issue can wait until 2012. Crist said lawmakers should let voters decide.

Both sides accused the other of playing politics.

House Speaker Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, said Crist's proposal would do nothing to help Floridians who have sustained economic damage from the spill.

Instead, he said that he and Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, plan to call another special session in September to consider legislation that would address that issue.

That will be well after the Aug. 4 deadline for placing a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Cretul called Crist's proposal a simple solution "designed to produce sound bites, photo-ops and political attacks."

Crist, though, still got his photo op, joining dozens of seafood workers, tourism business people, environmentalists other drilling foes who shouted "Let the people vote" at a Capitol rally about an hour before the House adjourned.

The Senate also went into session with a plan to hold workshops and committee meetings through Friday, but it cannot act alone.


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