Deep within the massive 100-page amendment to SB 1024, the Senate's giant economic developmment bill, is a lengthy new initiative offered up by Senate President Don Gaetz designed to shield any potential proceeds from the lawsuit against BP and Halliburton over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the measure, as part of its marathon meeting on Tuesday. Gaetz told the Herald/Times the idea is part of his ongoing efforts to secure money for the eight most seriously affected counties, most of which he represents -- Bay, Escambia, Franklin, Gulf, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Wakulla.
Under the amendment, the state would create Triumph Gulf Coast Inc., a nonprofit corporation whose budget, management and control "is not subject" to the Department of Economic Opportunity.
The company would receive 75 percent of all proceeds obtained by Attorney General Pam Bondi in her lawsuit against BP, and any other money that could be forthcoming from other sources. The company would hold the money in a trust fund that could not be touched by legislators, and it would be invested in any financial institution chosen by the company's board of directors.