2022 is setting up to be round 2 in what is turning into a battle between the State of Florida and Key West with regard to the city’s cruise ship restrictions. While the City of Key West continues to explore options to restore cruise ship restrictions following Florida’s 2021 preemption, a new State Senate bill would make it more difficult for a city or county to pass a local ordinance that could negatively affect businesses within the ordinance’s jurisdiction is making the committee rounds.
CS/CS/SB 280: Local Ordinances, proposed by Senator Travis Hutson, if passed by the State would “authorize courts to assess and award reasonable attorney fees and costs and damages in certain civil actions filed against local governments; requiring a board of county commissioners to prepare or cause to be prepared a business impact estimate before the enactment of a proposed ordinance; requiring a governing body of a municipality to prepare or cause to be prepared a business impact estimate before the enactment of a proposed ordinance, etc.”
If the bill is passed in the current revision, it will add a hurdle for a local governments – they would need to prepare the business impact estimate for public review. The bill would then prohibit local officials from enforcing an ordinance if there is a legal challenge to the ordinance. In the case of the anticipated cruise ship ordinance, there is a high percentage chance there will be a legal challenge from stakeholders in Key West.
At the time of publication, the bill has been voted favorably by both the Community Affairs (6 Yeas/2 Nays) and Rules (14 Yeas/2 Nays) committees. If you followed last year’s proceedings, you already know this is not the final bill text, if it makes it out of committee, the bill will proceed to through the process of both houses of the Florida Legislature which will inevitably result in multiple amendments which could change the overall impact of the bill with respect to any Key West cruise ship ordinances.
Last fall, Disney Cruise Line removed Key West from the current slate of available sailings, and ultimately this does not impact any upcoming cruises. The City of Key West attorney recommended the city not enact an ordinance that mirror the referendums. Now, it sounds like the cruise lines are in discussion with Key West on a possible compromise.
Regardless, this bill could result in future impacts related to this ongoing battle for Key West and the cruise industry as a whole.