Politics & Government

Florida Gov. Crist says he feels liberated after leaving GOP

Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday that he has ruled out calling the legislature into an anti-oil drilling special session as early as next week because he still lacks agreement from lawmakers but he's prepared to veto millions of dollars in budget projects as well what he calls a "mean-spirited" abortion bill.

Crist made his comments during an hour-long interview with the Miami Herald editorial board in which he lauded his decision to abandon the Republican Party as "joyous" and said it has allowed him to be more liberated in making decisions.

The governor said he hasn't given up on calling a special session to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would ban oil drilling in Florida waters but his suggestion that they could meet as early as May 24 was too optimistic.

There is some speculation that lawmakers plan to send Crist the most controversial bill last — a measure that would require a woman seeking an abortion in the first trimester to submit to and pay for an ultrasound, even if it wasn't considered medically necessary. It also requires that woman either look at the image or listen to a description of it by her doctor.

Crist said he was close to a decision on the abortion bill, noting he had concerns about the provision requiring a doctor to "sort of give (the women) a lecture" and considered the requirement that all women be forced to pay for the procedure "punitive."

"It's already got to be one of the most challenging decisions for any woman to make," he said. "Adding more stress to that is almost mean spirited."

Crist also chided the legislature for tucking dozens of last minute projects into the budget in a way that avoided public scrutiny.

"I'm really surprised that they did what they did at the end of the session, instead of having all these going through a very thorough committee vetting," he said. "We are looking at it with a jaundiced eye."

Read more of this story at MiamiHerald.com

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