Senate Refloats Key West Cruise Ship Issue – CBS Miami

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami / NSF) – The Florida Senate on Wednesday made another attempt to overturn a 2020 vote by Key West residents restricting cruise ship operations, adding the problem of a far-reaching transportation bill.

One day after the issue appeared dead in the House of Representatives, the Senate voted 21 to 17 in favor of adding broad language about local referenda on seaport operations to a transportation invoice (SB 1194) that must be returned to the House of Representatives. The transport invoice contains 27 issues.

CONTINUE READING: COVID vaccine ‘Pass’ Ban Clears House

Sen. Ed Hooper, a Republican from Clearwater who sponsors the transportation bill, and Sen. Jim Boyd, a Republican from Bradenton who sponsored a standalone port bill (SB 426) called the change a compromise with the House.

“This is the ninth week (of the legislature) and the Senate and House of Representatives sometimes reach compromise language that this could be one of those that nobody likes, and maybe that’s the right way to end it,” Hooper said.

However, Senator Bobby Powell of D-West Palm Beach said the change would apply to all 15 seaports in the state. It would ban local election initiatives that restrict maritime trade in ship sizes, places of origin, and even environmental and health records of the ship or company.

“If you have a port in your district, you know that the people in your district, the voters, will not be able to hear their voices on some of these issues,” said Senator Lori Berman, D-Delray Beach.

Key West voters voted in November to limit the size of ships and the number of passengers who can visit the city each day. Boyd’s bill, as approved by the Senate, was aimed at overturning the Key West vote. But it wasn’t mentioned on the floor of the house and appeared to have died on Tuesday.

CONTINUE READING: Alonzo Mourning distributes much needed meals to families at the Overtown Youth Center

On Monday, the Miami Herald reported that 11 companies owned by Mark Walsh, who owns the company that operates the Pier B cruise ship dock behind the Margaritaville Key West Resort and Marina, the Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee that supports the governor who have donated nearly $ 1 million to re-election efforts.

Senator Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, said the state should allow the Key West matter to go to court where a property owner could argue that the local vote involves a “takeover” of business interests.

“They have a business, they have a trust, they have a long-term contract with this business unit and the city is doing something that amounts to taking ownership and reducing it,” said Pizzo.

The Florida Ports Council, opposed to the earlier legislation, viewed the change as a restriction on the prevention of local seaport operations, with the Senate “taking steps to ensure that Florida’s seaports remain a major economic engine.”

“With thousands of cruise-related employees still down and cruise lines still unable to sail, it is important that local seaports do not further limit their ability to do business and create economic development opportunities,” said Michael Rubin, vice president Government Affairs Council in a prepared statement.

MORE NEWS: Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava urges people to continue wearing masks and social distancing from strangers

(© 2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. Do not publish, broadcast, rewrite, or redistribute this material. Jim Turner, Florida News Service contributed to this report.)

Comments are closed.