Atwater: October special session unlikely, too many gambling concerns (oil, too!)
Senate President Jeff Atwater, who is concerned about "questions" raised by his review of the gambling compact the governor recently signed, now calls an October special session to ratify the compact "highly unlikely."
In a memo sent today to senators, Atwater says gambling is "a complex issue and conducting a thorough analysis will take time. We have a responsibility to exercise due diligence to ensure we understand the long-term ramifications of the proposed Compact."
During the final days of compact negotiations, a provision was added to make it easier for the Palm Beach Kennel Club get slot machine gaming in Atwater's home county. The measure had not been in the original proposal adopted by the Legislature but was added by House negotiator Rep. Bill Galvano who said it was approved by Atwater and his gambling negotiator, chief of staff Budd Kneip. The provision was rejected by the tribe and the governor and it is among several provisions sought by lawmakers that are not part of the compact they signed.
Atwater's memo also suggests oil drilling isn't going to be debated on the chamber floors any time too soon. Offshore drilling involves policy decisions "that are not well served by undue haste," he writes. "If, or when, the Senate takes up this issue it will be in a manner that allows for sufficient time to debate the facts and the merits of such policy."
Read for yourselves here:
President Jeff Atwater
September 10, 2009
I want to provide you an update on where we are with regard to the proposed Gaming Compact signed by Governor Crist and the Seminole Tribe. I appreciate your phone calls and input. An initial review has raised questions regarding some of the terms of the Compact. I have directed Senate staff to work with the Governor’s office to receive additional clarification. Attached is a letter I have sent to Governor Crist today, apprising him of our request.
At this time an October special session is highly unlikely. This is a complex issue and conducting a thorough analysis will take time. We have a responsibility to exercise due diligence to ensure we understand the long-term ramifications of the proposed Compact. I will continue to keep you updated. I know we all remain committed to working in a deliberative manner towards a resolution that benefits all Floridians.
Additionally, there have been some recent news reports regarding expanding a special session to include offshore drilling. As you all are aware, this issue involves a series of complex conversations with a variety of interests and impacts throughout our State. There are policy decisions to be considered that are not well served by undue haste. If, or when, the Senate takes up this issue it will be in a manner that allows for sufficient time to debate the facts and the merits of such policy. The citizens of Florida deserve a thoughtful and deliberative process that establishes a factual baseline for our conversations.
Thank you for your hard work on behalf of the people of Florida.