Over the past 30+/- years, Key West has become more and more of a tourist destination. Whether they’re visiting for relaxation, the amazing restaurants (here are some of our favorites), the gorgeous sunsets, the LGBTQ+ friendliness, or just because it’s just so darn quirky, millions of people flock to the Conch Republic every year. Although some visitors drive or fly in, for years the vast majority of tourists arrived by cruise ship.
We wrote last summer that there was a chance that large cruise ships would no longer be allowed to visit Key West (well, once cruise ships would be allowed to sail again, anyway), due to a referendum that was going to be voted on in Nov. 2020 (it was a very interesting concept – read more about it at this link).
When November came around, the votes came in. And, well, all of a sudden it was going to become a whole lot harder to go to Key West.
Fast forward to January 2021 and State Senator Jim Boyd didn’t think the citizens of Key West should have that sort of power to stop cruise ships (Jim Boyd does not represent Key West, by the way – his area is around the Sarasota area). So he, along with Rep. Spencer Roach (he represents North Fort Myers – also nowhere near Key West) submitted a bill that would ban local communities from regulating cruise ports (click here to read more about what was going on with that).
Lots of hubbub came from that, including how much power should state government has over local government.
Fast forward one more time, to April 2021. The State Senate approved Boyd’s and Roach’s bill in a 21-14 vote. However, it was reported in the Tampa Bay Times that it was declared “dead” in the House by Representative Roach.
from the Tampa Bay Times:
The bill began as a broad attempt to prohibit local governments from restricting maritime commerce at Florida’s 15 deep-water ports. But with local governments fighting it and 92 lobbyists registered to work on it, Roach said he and Boyd “narrowed the bill and narrowed the bill and narrowed the bill.”
The final product, SB 426, “was narrowed in scope to the extent that we were not accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish,’’ Roach said Tuesday.
SB 426 passed the Senate last week, but Roach said the turning point came Monday when “staff raised some questions” about the constitutionality of using a general law to achieve a local purpose, something state law prohibits.
So the bill died.
Roach and Boyd claim they will try again next year, with a new version of the bill.
But for now, even when cruises are allowed to start again, Key West will not be one of their ports of call.
Feature Photo: Albert Herring / Wikimedia
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary