The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association is opposing offshore oil and gas drilling and is asking the Legislature not to take up the issue before the session ends on April 30.
The House Select Policy Council on Strategic & Economic Planning is expected has been holding hearings on drilling and is expected to consider possible draft legislation next week.
SB 2622 by Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne and the Senate president-elect in 2011, would allow the governor and Cabinet to issue drilling leases in state waters while HM 563 by Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, would encourage Congress to open up federal waters to drilling.
The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association is not targeting any specific legislation, spokeswoman Christina Johnson said. The association has 10,000 members representing an industry with more than 1 million employees and 20 percent of the state's economy, according to the group.
Many questions still remain about drilling despite local town hall meetings and forums that have been held, association CEO and President Carol Dover said in a statement issued Monday.
"We strongly encourage our elected officials to take a measured and thoughtful approach in order to ensure that a fair and accurate assessment of the facts is openly debated," Dover said. "We ask members of our association who oppose oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico to contact their local senator and representative within the next two weeks to let them know we will not support any measure that would be detrimental to Florida's tourism and hospitality industry."
(Used with permission from The Current, produced by The Florida Tribune. Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)