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Anti-drilling special session for sure, Crist says

Gov. Charlie Crist said Tuesday that a special legislative session will be called in the next couple of weeks fiocusing on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban offshore oil exploration, as well as new tax incentives to encourage utilities to promote renewable energy sources.

"I think it's important that we go ahead and have a special session," Crist said. Referring to a conversation with Senate President Jeff Atwater, Crist said: "I'm encouraged that the Legislature is of a mind to do so as well."

A special session focusing on an anti-drilling amendment is not only politically popular, but it assures that Crist will be in the media spotlight as he seeks to strengthen his independent U.S. Senate candidacy. It's also a potential publicity bonanza for Atwater, a Republican candidate for chief financial officer.

At least three-fifths of both houses of the Legislature would have to pass the proposed amendment, and at least 60 percent of voters would have to vote for it in November -- two hurdles that Crist says can easily be overcome. "There's no stronger place to put it. The constitution is the bedrock of our democracy," Crist said.

Crist also signed an executive order creating the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force to focus on the economic and environmental impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill and to help businesses in the spill's path recover from economic losses. The task force will have a web site and will be based in Tallahassee; the chairman has not yet been chosen, Crist said.

-- Steve Bousquet