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DeSantis signs bill overturning Key West voter-approved limits on cruise ships

Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill overturning three Key West ballot initiatives to limit cruise ships
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a bill that preempts Key West voter-approved limits on cruise ships.

S. 1194 states that a 'local ballot initiative or referendum may not restrict maritime commerce' in Florida ports.

This pertains to 'vessel type, size, number or capacity,' 'number, origin, nationality, embarkation or disembarkation of passengers or crew or their entry into this state or any local jurisdiction' and 'environmental or health records of a particular vessel or vessel line.'

Voters had approved limits by a wide margin

The law is retroactive, so it applies to the three measures passed overwhelmingly by Key West voters in November. Those measures capped the number of persons disembarking from cruise ships to a total of 1,500 per day and prohibited ships with capacity for 1,300 or more persons (passengers and crew) from disembarking.

Voters also supported priority for cruise lines with the best environmental and health records.

Florida lawmakers put the language into an unrelated transportation bill that cleared the House and Senate in April.

Busiest US cruise transit port

Key West is the busiest US cruise transit port, with 965,000 passengers on 417 calls in calendar year 2019.