Gwen Filosa writes in Yahoo! News:
In November, Key West voters changed how the island will deal with the cruise ship industry.
They capped the number of passengers that can disembark each day to 1,500, limited mooring to ships with a capacity of 1,300, and gave docking priorities to cruise lines with the best health and environmental records.
But state lawmakers this year could cancel out those election results. The 2021 legislative session starts Tuesday, and the cruise ship issue is in the Capitol.
Filed by state Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, a so-called preemption bill would retroactively bar local governments from regulating seaport business, including restricting a vessel’s type or size. A companion bill was filed in the House by Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, and Rep. Tyler I. Sirois, R-Merritt Island.
Opponents to the bills, including the Key West City Commission, say the legislation goes against “home rule,” and cancels what local voters already decided at the polls.
The City Commission last month unanimously passed a resolution urging the Legislature to support home rule, saying the bills would “deny the will of local voters at the expense of the environment.”
The Florida Legislature’s efforts to limit home rule conflicts with the rights and ability of local government and local voters to protect and improve their own community and the environment,” the resolution states.
Tue, March 2, 2021,
My analysis: This one is an open-and-closed case. Vote 100% with the anti-COVID harbor and ecology damaging monsters of the high seas: the cruise ships. Vote for the voters of Key West
“Although cruise ships bring 50 percent of all tourists to Key West, they bring only 6 percent of tourist spending,” according to Arlo Haskell, a committee organizer, at a 16 February Senate Committee on Transportation hearing.
“Big ships don’t bring big money to Key West but they do bring big problems.”
The following information is supplied by Arlo Haskell and the Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships:
Key West has gone almost a full year without cruise ships, which were halted worldwide by the CDC No Sail Order on March 15, 2020. As we approach the one-year anniversary, the Safer, Cleaner Ships research team has been studying the local economic indicators to better understand how our economy is faring without cruise ships. Here’s what we’ve found:
HOTEL & LODGING
Total hotel bed taxes for September–December 2020 exceed the same period for 2019 throughout the Florida Keys. (Source: Smith Travel Research Monthly District & Tier Overview Report)
For all of 2020, Florida Keys and Key West have the highest hotel occupancy rates and room rates in the state. (Source: Smith Travel Research Monthly District & Tier Overview Report)
Total sales tax revenue for September–November 2020 exceed the same period for 2019 throughout the Florida Keys (Source: Florida Sales Tax Return Data, Monroe County)
Total sales tax and parking revenues for September–December 2020 exceed the same period for 2019 in the City of Key West. (Source: City of Key West Finance Department.)
As of December 2020, there are 47,709 jobs in the Florida Keys — more jobs than at any time in the past 30 years. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Jobs are at a 30-year high in Key West as well, with 16,542 jobs (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Unemployment rate in the Florida Keys (Monroe County) is 3.8%, compared to a statewide average unemployment rate of 6.1% (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Monroe County has the 3rd-lowest unemployment rate in the state of Florida (Florida Department of Economic Opportunity).
BUSINESS AT THE PORT OF KEY WEST
For June–December 2020, many businesses at the Historic Key West Bight, part of the Port of Key West, had monthly sales higher than 2019, including bars and restaurants and watersports and dive companies. (Source: City of Key West Finance Department)
City of Key West Finance Director Mark Finigan reports: “Major Key West Bight tenants and the attractions based commercial tenants are doing as well as pre pandemic numbers (or better in certain cases).” (Source: Finance Director memo to City Commission)
For October 2020–January 2021, fuel sales at Key West Bight are 8% higher than the same period last year. For the month of January, fuel sales are up 25%, transient dockage is up 4%, and dinghy dockage is up 14%. Ports Director Doug Bradshaw reports: “Marina is full and we are predicting that it will stay that way towards April.” (Source: January Monthly Report for Key West Historic Seaport)
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