As Florida considers directing stimulus to the cruise industry, one Representative wants Key West left out.
Rep. Spencer Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican, said the state should not offer any assistance to the port in Key West after it restricted access to large ships. On Wednesday morning, he pointedly directed his comments toward the Southernmost Point.
“Gov asked us to send $260 million of fed stimulus to FL seaports hit hard by loss of cruise ship industry,” Roach tweeted. “I urge my colleagues to vote against any funds for jurisdictions that have banned cruise ships, as they clearly don’t need the revenue. Yep, looking at you City of Key West.”
The comment came a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis offered his recommendations to the Legislature on how to spend more than $4 billion in stimulus money tied to the COVID-19 relief package. The Governor’s plan calls for $260 million to be used for seaports impacted by cruise lines ceasing operations during the pandemic.
Notably, cruise operations just sailed from Florida ports this weekend, with an American Cruise Lines launching from Amelia Island.
Key West didn’t ban all cruises but greatly limited them. Referendums backed by The Key West Committee for Cleaner, Safer Ships limit daily cruise ship visitors to 1,500 and would bar any vessels with 1,300 or more passengers from docking. Another measure also allowed the port to grant priority based on cruise lines’ health and environmental records.
The local governments move already prompted preemptive legislation this year that would overrule the right for a local government to dictate commerce through ports. A bill (SB 426) sponsored by Sen. Jim Boyd, a Bradenton Republican, cleared the Senate Transportation Committee. Meanwhile, a Tourism, Infrastructure and Energy Subcommittee bill (HB 267) championed by Roach and Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican, is now in the Local Administration & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.