News & Updates


Senate President Jeff Atwater provides special session update

By:  David Yon

The chances of a special session are decreasing as October draws closer. Governor Crist has provided details of an agreement with the Seminole Tribe for a proposed Gaming Compact to the legislature and needs its approval before the compact can go into effect. There was speculation this might result in a special session to consider this compact. Also on the list for possible consideration, was off shore oil drilling and insurance legislation. The Senate President has now indicated there are unanswered questions about the compact and it is unlikely anything will happen in October. His letter, set out below, discourages the idea of including oil drilling as a topic for consideration and is silent on insurance.

TO: All Senators
FROM: President Jeff Atwater
SUBJECT: Gaming Compact
DATE: September 10, 2009

I want to provide you an update on where we are with regard to the proposed Gaming Compact signed by Governor Crist and the Seminole Tribe. I appreciate your phone calls and input. An initial review has raised questions regarding some of the terms of the Compact. I have directed Senate staff to work with the Governor’s office to receive additional clarification. Attached is a letter I have sent to Governor Crist today, apprising him of our request.

At this time an October special session is highly unlikely. This is a complex issue and conducting a thorough analysis will take time. We have a responsibility to exercise due diligence to ensure we understand the long-term ramifications of the proposed Compact. I will continue to keep you updated. I know we all remain committed to working in a deliberative manner towards a resolution that benefits all Floridians.

Additionally, there have been some recent news reports regarding expanding a special session to include offshore drilling. As you all are aware, this issue involves a series of complex conversations with a variety of interests and impacts throughout our State. There are policy decisions to be considered that are not well served by undue haste. If, or when, the Senate takes up this issue it will be in a manner that allows for sufficient time to debate the facts and the merits of such policy. The citizens of Florida deserve a thoughtful and deliberative process that establishes a factual baseline for our conversations.

Thank you for your hard work on behalf of the people of Florida.