• Tom Drake

Florida Governor Signs Bill Overturning Key West Restrictions

Key West can not restrict maritime commerce.

Yesterday Florida's Governor signed Bill S. 1194 that states that a 'local ballot initiative or referendum may not restrict maritime commerce' in Florida ports, effectively overturning the restrictions put in place by the residents of Key West. Rep. Jim Mooney, an Islamorada Republican who represents the Keys, was against this bill arguing that cruise ships cause water turbidity that is bad for fishing and the ecosystem. “It is my job to protect the ecosystem in the Florida Keys, and that’s what I am going to do,” Mooney said April 28 during a House floor debate.

The President of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association Ben Borgie said in a statement , " it is critical that local ballot initiatives don’t restrict commerce in ports. Maritime commerce has a wide-ranging impact on the lives of Floridians across the state, allowing for the free flow of goods and services to all regions — not just the locality of a given port, given that statewide importance, it is paramount that maritime commerce is not restricted or regulated via local ballot initiatives.”

Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican a backer of the bill said on the floor of the Senate that the state has a legal responsibility to keep the ports open. “What we are saying is Florida has to honor their commitment under the (U.S.) Constitution to not restrict people and commerce from entering this port,” Roach said. “We can’t simply have a group of 10,000 people closing down the Port of Key West and holding the state of Florida hostage to $90 million in general revenue that would come in.”

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