Florida House Cruise Ship Bill Narrowed To Key West – CBS Miami
TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – Legislative efforts by Key West residents to repeal a 2020 vote to limit cruise operations will continue to be limited to the Monroe County’s tourism community.
The House Commerce Committee voted 17-5 on Monday to approve an amended bill (HB 267) that would prohibit local governments from restricting maritime trade in areas of “critical government interest”.
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Of Florida’s 15 seaport communities, Key West is the only one in a designated “Area of Critical Government Significance,” a designation that focuses on environmentally sensitive areas.
Key West voters voted in November to limit the size of ships and the number of passengers who can visit the city each day.
The local vote was rejected by Caribe Nautical Services, who led the lobbying to improve the referendum.
Bill sponsor Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, claimed the intent of the November 2020 vote is to attract a different class of tourists to the community than on environmental issues, referendum supporters say.
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Roach said he thinks supporters of the restrictions “I believe are engaging in economic elitism that does not want working class citizens to roam the pier on Duval Street. They want to target an elite class of visitors and get Key West in the shape of a Martha’s Vineyard. “
Josh Aubuchon, lobbyist for Florida Ports for Economic Independence, said the referendum placed “reasonable” limits on cruise lines to protect the natural environment and preserve the Keys’ community spirit.
“Key West is one of the most inclusive communities in the state,” said Aubuchon. “I mean, if you’ve ever been down there, I can’t deny that they’re not elitist. You’re not trying to ban anyone. You are open to everyone. “
Prior to Monday’s change, the bill would have banned previous and future local referendums affecting cruise operations in municipal ports in Key West, Pensacola, Panama City and St. Petersburg. Of the city-run ports, only Key West has cruise lines, although negotiations are ongoing to move cruise lines to Panama City. The proposal, submitted in early January, sought to prevent local governments from regulating port operations across the country. The Senate version of the bill (SB 426) should be heard in the Senate on Wednesday.
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