Senate President Joe Negron on Tuesday said he was committed to getting $300 million in settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill to affected communities in northwest Florida.
Negron spoke to reporters on the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session.
“I don’t believe that we should set up some complicated bureaucracy,” said Negron, a Stuart Republican.
He said he’s working with Sens. Bill Montford, Doug Broxson and George Gainer, all of whom represent coastal areas in the Panhandle, to make sure constituents “get compensated for their actual economic damages.”
He toured affected areas at the time, telling a story of one hotel that couldn’t get any guests and had to lay off all its employees.
“This isn’t just a policy priority. It’s a personal priority,” Negron said.
Millions of barrels of oil surged into the Gulf in April 2010 after an oil well ruptured under BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform. Eleven rig workers died and 17 were injured.
It took until that July to cap the well; meantime, tarballs and oil washed up on 1,100 miles of coastline, keeping away the usual summer tourists and their money. Hotels, restaurants and tourism-related businesses were hit hardest.
A House measure filed recently would eliminate some oversight for the Triumph Gulf Coast board selected to allocate the settlement money, the Panama City News-Herald has reported. It also would have exempted tourism businesses from getting paid.
Negron said legislation needs to be passed soon: “We need the state of Florida to write a check,” he said.
He also opined on medical cannabis, charter school funding, Everglades restoration, and said he supported some sort of pay raise for state workers this year.
A Periscope video of his remarks can be viewed below:
Senate President Joe Negron https://t.co/ilZ2L2d4t0
— Jim Rosica (@JimRosicaFL) March 7, 2017