Florida Senate Bill 426 Targets Key West Cruise Ban

There is a new bill proposed in the the Florida Senate which aims to circumvent the restrictions put in place in Key West. During the November election, Key West voted heavily in favor to place restrictions on cruise ships, effectively banning larger cruise ships such as the Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. The vote placed the restrictions into the Key West charter, but the cruise industry shutdown left enforcement up in the air. Cruise lines, including Disney, still have voyages with stops in Key West available suggesting they felt the vote was not final.

An act relating to state preemption of seaport regulations; creating s. 311.25, F.S.; preempting to the state the regulation of commerce in state seaports; providing exceptions; providing construction; providing an effective date.

Florida SB 426 (2021) Summary

Florida Senate Bill 426: State Preemption of Seaport Regulations, filed on January 5, 2021 by Senator Jim Boyd, aims to give the State of Florida oversight of Florida’s seaport regulations such as the regulation of commerce in state seaports, and to provide exceptions. Boyd’s bill includes language preventing a local government from restricting or regulating commerce in a Florida seaport.

The key language which appears to take direct aim at the Key West cruise ship restrictions were spotted by Miami Herald reporter, Taylor Dolven.

FL SB 426 2021 Text

Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, a local government may not restrict or regulate commerce in the seaports of this state, as listed in s. 311.09, including, but not limited to, regulating or restricting a vessel’s type or size, source or type of cargo, or number, origin, or nationality of passengers. All such matters are expressly preempted to the state.

The bill will be considered sometime during the legislative session which begins on March 2, 2021.

Safer Cleaner Ships, the group who spearheaded the effort to place the measures on the ballot issued the following statement.

The dark money cruise industry is at it again.

A new bill filed yesterday in the Florida legislature aims to cancel sensible cruise limits passed by as much as 80% of Key West voters.

Having failed in the courts and at the polls, cruise lines are now on the verge of success as lavishly-funded lobbying efforts have produced draft legislation in the uppermost halls of State power.

Preemption proposal SB 426 would block Key West and all other Florida seaports from establishing any restrictions or regulations on commerce. Ports would be prohibited from establishing size restrictions and would even be barred from restricting toxic-waste cargoes.

The bill, filed for consideration during the legislative session that begins March 2, would reverse policies that “existed before, on, or after the effective date of this act.” If approved, the measure would cancel the votes of 10,000 Key Westers.

Make no mistake: this bill is written by and for foreign-owned cruise companies who exploit local community resources to maximize offshore profits.

It would shred “home rule” protections guaranteed under the Florida Constitution, and grant all the benefits of the US Constitution’s Commerce clause to a cabal of foreign-owned companies.

It would rob Florida cities of their 10th Amendment right to protect the health and safety of their citizens.

It would utterly ignore CDC regulations that require local ports to negotiate agreements directly with cruise lines.

It would block Floridians from protecting precious environmental resources in their own back yards. And it would give landlocked Tallahassee politicians the unquestionable right to call the shots for historic Key West Harbor.

Safer Cleaner Ships Statement on Senate Bill 426 (2021)

We will continue to monitor Senate Bill 426 and the ongoing situation in Key West as details become available.

9 Replies to “Florida Senate Bill 426 Targets Key West Cruise Ban”

  1. Brian Bailey

    Interesting. I hope it passes. Key West is a fun port we enjoy experiencing as we have enjoyed taking the Wonder out of Galveston and stopping there en route to CC.

  2. Mike K

    Horrible; Local leaders/population should have the right to restrict this. Classic example why politicians are not liked.

  3. James

    Key west has always been fiercely independent. But tourism is their only real product. You live and die by the sword. Shacks are worth 1m plus for a reason. It wasn’t to long ago that key west was one of the poorest cities in the country. Tourism saved them and still does today. Can’t have it both ways.

  4. DiverDan

    I’m heartened to hear that even some cruisers believe that it is the right of locals to govern what goes on in their seaport. I’m of the opinion as a cruiser that cruise ship tourism is not God’s gift to tourist revenue, that it isn’t a windfall like some believe and that it has a negative impact on certain areas that is not desired by locals. This bill is a prime example of big money trying to outflank the usual channels that failed. Pathetic

  5. Alice

    You are dead-on accurate. Catering to the cruise industry is akin to a sugar high…ALL THOSE PEOPLE….but when the economics are analyzed, most ports realize that the overall costs of “hosting” cruise passengers for a brief visit almost ALWAYS exceeds the revenue collected. And remember, ports need to answer to their local taxpayers (ya know, the people who pay taxes to fund the port infrastructure). The cruise passenger who provides an economic benefit to the community is the one who seeks out small/independent LOCALLY owned businesses. That person is not the norm among cruisers. We usually travel independently, but when we cruise (only DCL) we always use Tours By Locals. We have had nothing but truly outstanding port experiences AND we know that our vacation dollars are staying in the local economy. The push by DCL and others to force passengers to only use “approved” shore excursions ( when ships sail again) will be catastrophic for ports. I applaud Key West and hope they stand firm. To those people who love Key West…go there as an independent traveler. Stay in a B& B, eat at local restaurants….buy art from local craftpeople. You will be welcomed and appreciated.


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