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Shut out, Democrats blast House GOP for inaction

Florida House Democrats praised Gov. Charlie Crist for his proposed constitutional ban on near-shore drilling and blasted House Republicans for hypocrisy and obstructionism.

At a Tuesday morning press conference, leading Democrats took to the podium before a bank of television cameras and even national press to claim the high ground in the hours before the Legislature is expected to consider (or not) giving voters the opportunity to ban drilling in Florida waters.

Republican leaders argue the constitutional protections are not necessary given that drilling within 10 miles of the coast is not prohibited under current law. But House Democratic leader Franklin Sands said you can't trust them after they tried to repeal the law in recent years.

"I have an issue with believing what Republicans say,” he said. "They also said they weren’t going to raise our taxes. And yet we walked out of session a couple years ago with $2 billion in new taxes. So I have trouble believing them.

“To me, the pledges that the Republicans have taken are written on toilet paper,” Sands continued. “And we all know what you can do with toilet paper.”

Democrats also pivoted to note that top House GOP members supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage -- even though it was already illegal. Politics is at work, not voters interests, said Key West Democrat Ron Saunders said. And an oil ban on the ballot helps Democrats, so Republicans won't even allow debate on the issue. "This is an effort to suppress" Democratic turnout, said Rep. Geraldine Thompson, an Orlando Democrat.