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New Law Prohibits Florida Seaports From Restricting Commerce

Control over how each Florida seaport manages vessel requirements and commerce into the port will not change after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 1194, a transportation bill into law. The new legislation now prohibits local ballot initiatives that alter maritime commerce like vessel sizes and points of origin. It was enacted in response to Key West voters approving three ballot initiatives that limited the sizes of cruise ships and the number of passengers allowed to visit the city’s port daily.

The Florida Ports Council had been against previous versions of the legislation citing its broad reach.

“The pandemic has proven just how important Florida’s local seaports are to Florida’s economy. With thousands of cruise-related employees still sidelined and cruise ships still unable to sail, it’s vital that local seaports are not further restricted in their ability to conduct business and create economic development opportunities,” says Michael Rubin, Interim president & CEO of the Florida Ports Council, a nonprofit corporation overseeing the fifteen deep seaports in Florida, including PortMiami and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

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