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Florida Legislature Looks to Void Key West Cruise Ship Ban

On election day in November, the citizens of Key West passed a ballot initiative that would limit cruise ships over a certain size from calling on Mallory Square. Now, the Florida Legislature is looking to void that initiative with a new bill filed in the state legislature yesterday. 

The bill, introduced by Senator Jim Boyd of District 21, which includes Port Tampa Bay, aims to limit a local government’s ability to “restrict or regulate commerce in the seaports”. 

The full text of the bill can be found HERE

Economic Benefits of Seaports 

In the bill, the economic benefits of Florida’s seaports act as the main argument against limiting ship size and passenger disembarkation in Key West. It states: 

Florida seaports currently generate nearly 900,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute $117.6 billion in economic value to the state through cargo and cruise activities, accounting for approximately 13 percent of Florida’s gross domestic product and $4.2 billion in state and local taxes. 

The bill raises concerns about letting local governments control seaports in general: 

Allowing each local government in which a Florida seaport is located to impose its own requirements on the maritime commerce conducted in that port could result in abrupt changes in the supply lines bringing goods into and out of this state, thus disrupting Florida’s economy and threatening the public’s health, safety, and welfare. 

While it doesn’t name the Key West ballot initiative by name, the last line of the bill makes it clear that the law local voters passed would be void. 

Any provision of a county or municipal charter, ordinance, resolution, regulation, or policy that is preempted by this act and that existed before, on, or after the effective date of this act is void.

Taylor Dolven, tourism reporter for the Miami Herald, was one of the first to start spreading the word about the new bill and its implications. 

 

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