Had the Brookings Institution Think Tank set out to predict the doings yesterday in Tallahassee, they would not have come even close. As a result of a quirk*, fluke, accident, or what some called an “act of God” and others called a “hissy fit” by House Speaker Crisafulli, the deceitful, oil-industry sponsored fracking bills died a well-deserved death by being “temporarily postponed” by Senate President Richter.
Confusion reigned on the floor of the Senate and in the minds of the lobbyists and citizen viewers in the balcony, one of whom was your Tallahassee-neophyte writer, where it still reigns.
In a nutshell, the Speaker shut down the House sine die, (Latin for “adjourned without setting a day to reconvene”) meaning this year’s session was done, after a dispute with the Senate over the Medicaid issue in the budget. Thus the secret chemicals bill HB 1209 was dead and the Senate could not add amendments to its companion bill there, and without the amendments, Senator Richter, the bill sponsor, could not secure the 2/3 votes to waive rules and send an unamended bill to the governor. As a result he temporarily postponed the bill today, Wednesday, April 29, which means it is dead for this session.
If we are looking for reasons, we might speculate on fate, and note that after the Senate convened yesterday at eleven o’clock, it recessed from approximately 11:45 until 1:00 pm. Had this delay of approximately 45 minutes not transpired, most likely the Senate would have completed its actions on the bill, voted on it and passed it. Some say this recess was unusual and unexplained, but a call to Senator Dean’s office resulted in an aid explaining that this was a normal lunch break. Whatever it was, we’ll take it.
*The above is not meant to detract from all the hard work done by the many groups and individuals for months and months, phone calls, meetings, emails, miles traveled, testimony given, days taken off work, families and spouses neglected. This effort had its effect and without it we would not have had the support to be in the position we are in now. Thanks are due to all of the many.
This battle is won but not the war. Before the next Legislative Session the work must continue so that a fracking ban for the state can be secured. Throughout the state, 25 local ordinances are needed by June. Many must yet be convinced that fracking is a real threat to Florida’s water resources. Education is the key. When fracking is exposed, it will be banned.
Dr. Ronald Saff