Florida Senate passes oil spill recovery measure

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Senate has unanimously passed a bill designed to help the Florida Panhandle diversify its economy after last year's Gulf of Mexico oil spill dealt a severe blow to its tourism industry.

The bill (SB 248) focuses assistance on eight "disproportionately affected" counties including a $10 million state appropriation for economic development efforts there.

It now goes to the House where a similar bill has not yet had a committee hearing.

The bill also would allocate 75 percent of spill damages recovered by Florida to economic development and environmental restoration in the affected counties.

A relatively small amount of oil from BP's Deepwater Horizon spill washed up on Panhandle beaches but it still caused thousands of tourists to stay away.

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