File photo, Deepwater Horizon oil rig

Brad Drake bill would bring BP money to inland Northwest Florida

Rep. Brad Drake filed a bill Wednesday that would redirect settlement money from the BP oil spill into a new economic development fund in Northwest Florida.

HB 191 would create the Northwest Florida Rural Inland Affected Counties Recovery Fund, which would receive 5 percent of all payments the state receives from BP after July 1, 2019. Drake is a Eucheeanna Republican.

The fund would be overseen by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and would pay for projects in Calhoun, Gadsden, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty and Washington counties.

According to the bill text, the money would be used to “encourage job creation, capital investment, and the strengthening and diversification of the economies of such counties by promoting tourism, trade, and economic development.”

The Northwest Florida Rural Inland Affected Counties Recovery Fund’s efforts could be directed at infrastructure planning, workforce programs that provide participants with “transferable sustainable workforce skills,” or grants to the Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation and regional economic development boards.

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