The Marine Industries Association of South Florida outlined some of its initiatives before the new Florida legislature convenes in March.
“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,” according to “The Captain’s Chair” blog on the MIASF website.
The association said it would be lobbying to reduce the refit and repair sales tax cap, among other initiatives.
“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,” said the blog. “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 as the refit and repair capital.”
MIASF also wants a comprehensive transportation study that would determine whether the introduction of a high-speed passenger rail “does not negatively impact the continued navigability of the New River.”
The association negotiated rail-bridge openings to a maximum of 60 minutes within 120 minutes but said the increased passenger service should require a comprehensive study by the Florida Department of Transportation on the feasibility of building a 45-foot bascule bridge over the New River. The blog states that “previous studies have concluded that a 45-foot bascule bridge would eliminate the need for 85 percent of bridge openings.”
The association also called for transportation funding flexibility, which would dovetail into the previous issue. Funding flexibility, said the statement, would allow state and federal transportation funding for roads to be used for other infrastructure projects, such as the bridge over the New River.
The final legislative push will be for continued Marine Research Hub funding. “The Marine Research Hub is making tremendous headway in promoting the collaboration and commercialization of university research in South Florida,” said the blog. “With its recent 501(c)3 designation and board of directors appointments, the Marine Research Hub is ready to go to the next level.”
MIASF said the hub will submit an appropriations request for funding to hire a full-time director to oversee its operation. It eventually wants to attain “Blue Tech Cluster” status for the region.