Proposed amendment could change usage for BP oil spill settlement money

JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Some say a bill that's making its way through the Florida legislature could help ease the burden of eight coastal counties that was caused by the 2010 BP oil spill.

The money from the Triumph Gulf Coast Settlement totals $1.5 billion.

District 2 Senator George Gainer (R) said he plans to file an amendment to the bill, one that would allow the money to be spent on economic enhancement and tourism incentives to bring growth back to the area.

In a press release Wednesday, Gainer wrote that, "As far back as I can remember, we have educated and trained our young people here locally only to lose countless generations to other areas offering jobs with higher pay and better opportunities. We now have the opportunity to change this cycle."

Richard Williams is the Executive Director of Opportunity Florida. He said, "If we can get some additional tools in northwest Florida to do economic development, to do job creation, to help tourism, then that's going to help all of us and that's something that we need to consider as we go forward."

However, some aren't as thrilled about the possible amendment.

In a statement, District 6 Representative Jay Trumbull (R) tells us this is the part of the legislative process he finds frustrating.

He said, "The Senate needs to work with the House, and keep this legislation on track ensuring money to the hardworking men and women in the Panhandle."

Trumbull said he fears any changes could kill the bill.

With just two weeks left in session, lawmakers in Tallahassee are expected to vote on the bill within the next couple of days.