South Florida Intercoastal

Advocacy Report

By: MIASF Staff

Date posted: Mar 02, 2022 Wed

The legislative session in Tallahassee has two weeks remaining and marine relevant bills include many proposals by the Florida Fish and Wildlife. One relevant proposed bill is amending language to strengthen law enforcement’s ability to identify and declare a derelict vessel and remove from Florida waters. This bill includes a small increase in vessel registration to fund derelict vessel related costs. Another FWC bill requests the creation and funding of a seven-officer team forming the Illegal Boating Strike Team. The language in the bill defines livery and strengthens requirements of education and insurance before a rental can happen. There is also an amendment proposed to permit human-powered vessels in connection to schools to operate within the channels of the ICW. Last year a bill passed restricting human-powered vessels to only transit the channel as quickly and directly as possible.
The Yacht and Ship Brokers Act has continued to move through the process. It has faced some challenges as the additional regulations, intent on raising the professional standards, go against the current philosophy of removing as many governmental impediments as possible to business. Time will tell if the bill makes it to the end of this session. Another bill to watch, although not directly marine-related, is the removal of all sales and use tax for all aircraft, currently only certain types of aircraft are exempt.
Environmental legislation includes the creation of the Office of Resilience within the executive office of the Governor and the funding of a study identifying processes of nutrient removal from water bodies. Funding of the Marine Research Hub, whose goal is to commercialize and monetize the marine research done by our local universities has made it to the House, appropriation thanks to the sponsorship of Representative Chip LaMarca. Lastly of local interest is a bill defining a process requiring testing and posting of signage when waters are not safe for swimming.
The American Boating Congress has opened registration. Set to run May 11th-13th in Washington D.C., this year will see a format change as the ease of visits to congressional offices may still be hampered by restrictions. Currently the discussion includes a possible boat show to highlight our industry.
The public meetings of the New River Crossing continue, and the importance of a locally preferred alternative is being emphasized to move into the federal funding application phase. The tunnel would naturally work for navigation interests, as would the 56’ and 80’ bridge, unfortunately the tunnel is three3 times the cost of either bridge and the biggest concern is ‘No Build’ becomes the default choice damaging the industry and putting regional commuter rail decades behind as the rest of the country benefits from the current infrastructure funding bill.
Brightline has been meeting with the industry this month. Ken Hall, General Manager of FEC Dispatch whose responsibility is to operate the train schedules within the regulation and assure the coordination of navigation took time out of his day to join MIASF on the Water Taxi for a tour of upriver boatyards and learned the importance of the industry. Earlier this month we met with Vice President of Operations and learned that they are about to roll out a new app that will be more accurate to better assist scheduling decisions for boaters. The bridges in Loxahatchee and St Lucie are in the process of rehab, not unlike New River experienced several years ago as they prepare for the planned route to Orlando.
Lastly on April 22 the Coast Guard Foundation is holding their District 7 dinner at the Marriott Harbor Beach. This is an opportunity to meet and speak to leadership and support our Coast Guard. MIASF has taken several tables and has made seats available for $500 each. Individual tables are available for $5,000. Contact for additional information.