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Crist: No special session next week, "still trying" to persuade House

In an hour-long appearance with the Miami Herald editorial board Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Crist said he's ruled out a special legislative session next week to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot banning oil drilling 10 miles off Florida's coast but is still hoping to call one.

"I'd rather do it sooner rather than later,'' he said, adding that he will not attempt to include it in a special session on corruption, which he expects to call after the statewide grand jury produces its preliminary recommendations as early as June. "I would prefer to have more time for the statewide grand jury,'' he said.

As for an oil drilling session, Crist said, "the Senate is more amenable than the House, although I’m trying with the House,'' noting that he has been exchanging phone calls with Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, the incoming House speaker, "to get a better sense of the mood.''

When asked what was causing the resistence among House leaders, Crist referred to the House push for the past year to set the foundation for legislation next year that would allow for oil and gas exploration in Florida waters.

"The holdup in the House is that I think they pushed very hard previously to get drilling in the Gulf and maybe time will help bring them around to the view that isn’t such a wonderful idea given what has happened,'' he said.

Crist added that he hopes to add to a special session new incentives to encourage renewable energy development in the state, "because I think more than ever it should be blatantly obvious that clean energy is the way to go'' but the resistance in the Senate is interfering with that.

Crist acknowledged that a constitutional ban would only effect drilling in Florida waters, just 10 miles off the coast, and was somewhat symbolic. But, he added, drilling in Florida waters could be especially harmful. "The zeal to want to get more oil out of the Gulf of Mexico could significantly damage our our tourism industry.''