Florida State Rep. Jay Trumbull (R-FL-06), House Appropriations chair, is calling on the Florida Ports industry to lobby for more infrastructure cash while still waiting on federal COVID stimulus money.
Trumbull said he wishes “we could have done more” for the ports industry, but he is concerned Florida’s ports could lose out on commerce and industry to nearby Alabama and Georgia.
Trumbull, who represents a district in Florida’s Panhandle, said to the Florida Ports Council’s annual meeting, the issue is also unique for North Florida.
“We need to continue, especially for our North Florida ports like Jacksonville and Panama City, to make investments to compete with ports, like I talked about, in Alabama, in Georgia,” Trumbull said. “We are focused on having a world-class reputation as the biggest, most modern, most secure and easiest to access for all the southeastern United States. Understand, we have a long way to go if we don’t set this as our goal.”
The federal government has yet to provide Florida officials direction for how to use the stimulus money designated for Florida’s ports, as part of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act. Port Everglades, in Broward County, is expected to receive $58.26 million along with millions of dollars to Florida’s other ports.
The infrastructure bill currently being considered in Congress is expected to provide $42 billion more for ports.
Workers and officials in Florida’s port industry saw billions of dollars lost as part of the economic slow-down as part of the COVID pandemic in 2020.
Florida’s ports, and the cruise industry utilizing Florida’s ports, have also been on the front lines of the fight regarding vaccine passports and vaccine requirements. The Bahamas recently declared no unvaccinated cruise patrons will be permitted to disembark. Cruise lines have threatened to withdraw from Florida over DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban, and some have taken up legal challenges against the new Florida law.
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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.
Photo “Jay Trumbull” by Jay Trumbull. Background Photo “Seaport Champion Award” by Florida Ports Council.