In a Key West Committee for Safer Cleaner Ships email title, “Bullied but not Silenced”, we learn about Rules Chair Kathleen Passidomo’s attempt to silence a group of small business owners, environmental leaders, and public servants:
On Wednesday we woke up at 3:00 am and boarded a flight to Tallahassee with Mayor Johnston and 19 fishermen, small business owners, environmental leaders, and public servants. We took off work, cancelled charters, and left our families behind so we could give public testimony before the State Senate Rules Committee about how the bill to overturn Key West’s voter-enacted cruise ship limits threatens the future of our reef and the livelihoods that depend on a healthy ecosystem.
Rules Chair Kathleen Passidomo didn’t want to hear it, and she didn’t want the Senate to hear it either. She repeatedly interrupted us and told us to stop talking. When we refused, she ordered Senate staffers to cut our microphones and turn off our video feed. When we stood our ground at the podium, she ordered security guards to stand menacingly close and ask us to leave. Short of physically and forcibly removing us from the room, one of the most powerful figures in the State of Florida did everything in her power to bully us into silence.
But we would not be silenced. Even when they cut the public video feed, we stood our ground and said our piece, filling more than an hour of committee time with impassioned pleas to respect our vote and protect us from large cruise ships, and ensuring that the business of the Committee could not move forward until we were finished. When the Rules Committee voted to advance the bill to the full Senate for a final vote in that chamber, we went on to the Governor’s Mansion, where we again called on Governor DeSantis to step in and stop this bad bill.
As we boarded the flight home to Key West, a tide of media coverage started pouring in, raising the stakes for legislators in the House Commerce Committee, where chairman Blaise Ingoglia has yet to schedule the bill for what would be its final committee vote in the House.
We’ve faced some difficult losses during the legislative process the past several weeks. But we’ve never been stronger than we are right now. We continue to see a clear path to victory ahead. We will keep fighting. We will keep making noise. And we will keep you posted.
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