SANTA ROSA CO., Fla. (WALA) - Officials in Santa Rosa County are encouraging residents to speak out about a bill making it's way through the state legislature.
They say an amendment to Senate Bill 1024 would divert money from the RESTORE Act away from panhandle counties. The RESTORE Act funnels fine money owed by BP and other parties responsible for the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill back into the five Gulf Coast states most impacted by the disaster.
In the proposed senate bill, 75 percent of Florida's allocation that was to come to Santa Rosa, Escambia, Okaloosa, Walton and four other panhandle counties would be diverted to a quasi-public corporation yet to be formed called "Triumph Gulf Coast, Inc."
It will be governed by a five person board of directed appointed by the governor, the attorney general, the chief financial officer, the speaker of the house and the president of the senate. Local officials say those individuals will not be required to live in any of the impacted areas. The board will make decisions regarding the usage of the counties' direct allocation of RESTORE funds.
Officials say the amendment also sets the criteria for approved projects, focusing on economic issues including tax relief but eliminates environmental restorations projects that were the focus of the federal RESTORE.
Local leaders throughout Northwest Florida are asking residents to contact local legislators to encourage them to vote against the bill. To read the full version of the current bill, click here .
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