oil_spill_web.jpgTALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ A Gulf of Mexico oil spill recovery bill that focuses on the Florida Panhandle has cleared a Senate panel.

The Community Affairs Committee unanimously approved the bill (SB 248) on Tuesday.

A key provision would require that 75 percent of any fines or settlements collected by the state be spent in seven coastal Panhandle counties.

The money would fund research on the spill's effects, environmental restoration and economic development incentives.

The bill also provides $10 million to the region for economic development efforts and extends building and development permit deadlines.

It also lifts the state sales tax on boats and marine equipment bought in the seven counties from July 1 through Sept. 30 this year.