According to State Sen. Don Gaetz, R- Niceville, the committee chairman, the bi-partisan panel will begin receiving testimony and discussing potential legislation across a broad range of oil spill issues affecting the state's economy.
Gaetz said his committee will consider tax relief for affected property owners, the damage and claims process related to the spill, and changes which may be needed in the regulatory environment to promote economic recovery. Actions recommended by the committee may be taken up by either a special or regular session of the Legislature, or both.
"This catastrophe is metastasizing daily," Gaetz said. "Floridians are losing their jobs, business income is slumping and local governments are rapidly burning through their scant reserves. Every barrel of oil that pumps into the Gulf of Mexico poisons the economy of Florida."The committee will also review "barriers to an aggressive response" by state and federal authorities and BP in dealing with the economic consequences of the spill on Floridians.
On July 2, Gaetz asked Governor Crist for a detailed schedule of uses of BP funds provided to the state. Where and how effectively the state is deploying funds to support Northwest Florida and the Gulf coast will be on the committee's July 12 agenda.
During the recent legislative session, the Select Committee on the Economy authored the "Jobs for Florida" economic development package which gained unanimous passage in both houses and approval by the Governor. Senate President Jeff Atwater has now directed the committee to address the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Assisting the committee with its work will be the Haas Center for Business Research at the University of West Florida, which has already begun evaluating the economic losses being incurred by the region, and Carr, Riggs and Ingram, a large regional public accounting firm with offices throughout the Gulf coast states.
In addition to Gaetz, committee members include Senators Ring (Vice Chair), Alexander, Bennett, Gelber, Haridopolos, Hill, Lawson, Negron, Richter, Sobel and Thrasher