Conflict over port worker IDs in Fla.'s Broward County

Apr. 24--TALLAHASSEE -- Broward County leaders at the capital for "Broward Days" said they are concerned about a proposal they claim would discourage business from Florida ports including Port Everglades and Port of Miami.

The proposal would replace a federally mandated identification system for port workers with a $30 state issued ID.

After 9/11, U.S ports have had to strengthen security measures.

While the federal government mandated that all ports have a universal security identification system in place by the end of 2008, Florida has had its own ID since 2000.

Broward officials say conflicting IDs across state lines will mean an additional cost for companies, and may lead business owners to set up shop at ports where there is one standard identification.

"If this passes, we're going to force these shippers to leave Florida. They're going to end up going to Georgia to the Port of Savannah," said Broward Commissioner Josephus Eggelletion Jr.

Broward County Mayor Lois Wexler said the measure -- pushed by Rep. Sandra Adams, an Oviedo Republican, and Sen. Charles Dean, an Inverness Republican -- would be a costly and confusing endeavor for business owners.

'Businesses are going to think, 'Can truckers get in and out easily?' " Wexler said.

"If this ID comes at an extra cost to them, they're going to do whatever they can to reduce the cost of operation, perhaps even leaving the state."

The bill's proponents contend the money raised from the IDs would generate more than $1 million for the state in its first year, and would hold Florida port workers to a higher security standard.

"From my understanding, the state version is a little bit better in terms of security procedure, but we're going to do our best to marry the state and federal versions," said Broward delegation Chairman Rep. Jack Seiler, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat.

"There's no doubt that the Port [Everglades] is a giant economic engine for the county," Seiler said. "We're going to push for the most efficient and most effective system for all of Florida's ports."

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