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The bill frees up money BP has agreed to pay out for economic restoration of the eight most affected counties — Bay, Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Gulf, Franklin and Wakulla — from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Republican Sen. George Gainer had a small but rapt crowd at Rivertown Community Church Friday, when he delivered remarks about the recent legislative session and the upcoming special session called earlier that day by Gov. Rick Scott.

A Northwest Florida senator filed a proposal Thursday that would create a new program to provide grants to rural hospitals for building improvements and equipment purchases.

Florida Sen. George Gainer (District 2) has sent a letter to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, asking that agency not to approve the deep injection well that Waste Management wants to install at Springhill Landfill as a means of disposing of landfill wastewater, or leachate water, over 3,000 feet underground.

In the next legislative session, the Florida Senate will discuss a bill drafted by George Gainer and two other Panhandle senators. The topic of the bill is BP oil spill funds.

Senator George Gainer (R-Panama City) and Representative Brad Drake (R-Eucheeanna) paid visits to Holmes and Washington Counties to hear public comment on multiple issues during delegation sessions in each county Jan. 30.

All 40 members of the Florida Senate were sworn into office Tuesday morning. Half of them are new to the chamber, including longtime former Bay County Commissioner and businessman George Gainer.

Inside a packed meeting room Monday afternoon, the Florida Legislature’s Jackson County delegation opened the microphone to more than a dozen speakers and spent roughly 80 minutes hearing several pleas for funding, a few concerns about legislation, and numerous stances on continuing efforts to incorporate Compass Lake in the Hills.

Bay County Commissioner and Panama City businessman George Gainer has been elected to the Florida Senate, representing District 2. In a testament to his broad support, Commissioner Gainer was the only candidate to file for the Northwest Florida Senate seat when state qualifying ended at noon Eastern Friday.