When local voters make their voices heard, Florida lawmakers seek to muzzle them | EditorialA Silversea Silver Spirit cruise ship Nov. 27, 2018,...

When local voters make their voices heard, Florida lawmakers seek to muzzle them | EditorialA Silversea Silver Spirit cruise ship Nov. 27, 2018,...When local voters make their voices heard, Florida lawmakers seek to muzzle them | Editorial

A Silversea Silver Spirit cruise ship Nov. 27, 2018, struck a mooring at Mallory Square in Key West and did enough damage to cause officials to have to close the port of call for at least three months. BY

A Silversea Silver Spirit cruise ship Nov. 27, 2018, struck a mooring at Mallory Square in Key West and did enough damage to cause officials to have to close the port of call for at least three months.

When Key West put three referendums on the ballot last year to limit cruise ships at the city’s port, the cruise industry funded a dark-money disinformation campaign to convince voters to reject the proposals.

Despite stoking fears that the referendums would “devastate” city services like police and fire rescue, the industry lost that battle. Voters approved the referendums by margins of 60 percent to 80 percent to limit the number of tourists allowed to disembark to 1,500 per day, ban ships with more than 1,300 people and give priority to ships with good health and environmental records.

That made sense to Key West voters trying to preserve their way of life and the world’s third-largest barrier reef at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. It makes sense to anyone concerned about the Keys’ delicate ecosystem.

But opponents of the measure weren’t having it, so they did what monied special interests usually do when they can’t get their way locally: They turned to the Legislature, which is considering legislation to void the results of the referendums and prohibit municipalities from restricting operations at their ports.