letter to the editor

An Open Letter: “Bill 639 is … Unacceptable”

The following letter was sent by Wally Moran to the House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Subcommittee regarding HB 639 which contains a new law that will require all anchored boats in the Florida Keys to move every 90 days. An original version of the text drafted by FWC required boaters to move a distance of at least 5 miles or to a mooring field, marina or private dock. The detailed text has been removed leaving all the details to be decided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission through an agency rule-making process. 

HB 639 Monroe County

Dear Committee Member:

Bill 639 is an unacceptable violation of boaters’ rights in Monroe County. It will create significant problems for the Keys workforce, many of whom live on boats as the only available affordable housing. We are talking about thousands of people who serve the public as restaurant staff, charter boat captains and crews, retail store employees and many other positions throughout the Florida Keys.

I will remind you also that as Florida residents, they also vote and they – and their friends – are not happy with what they are seeing happen with this bill. While their vote does not affect most of you reading this, I assure you, discussions are being held by these people about how to hold any politician supporting this bill to account.

Much worse than all of this however, is that HB 639 furthers the business interests of Robert Spottswood, the former chair and current committee member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. This disgusting conflict of interest has been reported in various Keys and Monroe County media and is being looked at again by the media and concerned citizens.

In fact, it has been reported in the media that FWC staffers refer to HB 639 as “Spottswood’s bill”.

Isn’t that charming? Just whose interests are being looked after here? The citizens of Florida, or a wealthy hotel owner?

I can assure you, the people affected by this bill have an answer for that question. Care to guess what it is?

HB 639 is an unconscionable act of self interest, an act that will serve to enrich a powerful political figure at the expense of thousands of people at the low end of the economic totem pole, and this cannot be acceptable to responsible legislators.

Further, implementation of this bill will have significant negative effects on the tourism industry of the Florida Keys, both marine tourism and onshore tourism.

I ask you to refuse to justify this dishonest and quite possibly corrupt piece of legislation with your support.

Thank you for your concern. I will be following this issue very closely.

I would appreciate a response from you personally regarding this issue.


W. J. Moran

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