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State Senate Bill Seeks To Cancel Key West Cruise Ship Limits

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Key West by cruise ship every year.
Nancy Klingener
Key West voters have approved strict limits on cruise ships in Key West.

A state senator from Bradenton has filed a bill that would roll back Key West's strict limits on cruise ship visitation.

The bill introduced by Sen. Jim Boyd (R-Bradenton) would preempt the ability of local governments to regulate or restrict a vessel's size or number of passengers.

It says that ability should belong to the federal and state governments because "the economic impact of a seaport extends far beyond the boundaries of the local jurisdiction in which the port is located, materially contributing to the economies of multiple cities and counties within the region and to the economy of the state as a whole."

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In November, Key West voters approved city charter amendments that limit the capacity of cruise ships to 1,300 people maximum. No more than 1,500 people can disembark on a single day. And the city is required to prioritize ships with the best health and environmental safety records.

State Rep. Jim Mooney, who represents the Keys in Tallahassee, convened a meeting Wednesday of local government and agency officials to present their legislative priorities. Key West City Manager Greg Veliz brought up Boyd's bill.

"A large portion of our community voted these ordinances in and now they're at risk," Veliz said. "We need to at least protect the city's right to govern whether or not cruise ships should be regulated or not."

All three city charter amendments were approved by more than 60% by voters.

Boyd’s bill specifies that the preemption would be retroactive. Florida's legislative session is scheduled to start March 2, though committees begin meeting next week.

Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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