From the Captain’s Chair: 2019 Legislative Priorities January 30, 2019
November’s elections resulted in a new administration for the state of Florida, as well as a new crop of elected officials representing us in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., all of whom will need to be educated on the strength of the marine industry and its economic impact here in South Florida. Having the new numbers available from our latest economic impact study by Thomas J. Murray and Associates will certainly help demonstrate the upward trend of the size and scope of our industry in a very timely way.
Although the 2019 Florida Legislative Session officially begins in March, committee hearings and public testimony are currently underway, and we will be advocating for several items that impact the marine industry.
- The reduction of the refit and repair sales tax cap. In 2016, we spearheaded the legislation that capped the sales tax on vessel refit and repair at $1 million, consequently spurring other states to quickly cap their sales tax at $500,000. This year we will pursue the passage of a subsequent bill to reduce the sales tax cap on vessel refit and repair to $500,000 so that we can remain competitive with our neighboring states that are interested in challenging South Florida’s reputation at the refit and repair capital.
- Appropriation request to fund a comprehensive transportation study. For the past several years, MIASF has been working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard and All Aboard Florida to ensure the introduction of high-speed passenger rail does not negatively impact the continued navigability of the New River. While we successfully negotiated a full-time bridge tender and limits on the rail bridge openings to a maximum of 60 minutes within 120 minutes, increased passenger rail service from Brightline (soon to be Virgin), plus the potential launch of Tri-Rail Coastal Link, require a comprehensive study by the Florida Department of Transportation on the feasibility of building a 45’ bascule bridge over the New River and continuing it across Broward Boulevard to the Brightline Station. Previous studies have concluded that a 45’ bascule bridge would eliminate the need for 85% of bridge openings.
- Transportation funding flexibility. We will be supporting the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization’s desire to have flexibility with State and federal transportation funding to allow for road building dollars to be used for other infrastructure needs, like the bridge over the New River.
- Marine Research Hub funding. Now in its third year, The Marine Research Hub is making tremendous headway in promoting the collaboration and commercialization of university research in South Florida. With its recent 501(c)3 designation and Board of Directors appointments, the Marine Research Hub is ready to go to the next level. The Marine Research Hub will be submitting an appropriation request to the State for funding to hire a full-time director to oversee its operation and work toward attaining the desirable Blue Tech Cluster status for the region.
We will be sure to provide the House and Senate sponsors and bill numbers as they are assigned so that you can track the progress throughout Session.