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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Proposed legislation in Florida would honor the late Jimmy Buffett

 Colorful chairs in Key West, FL
Andris Piebalgs
Colorful chairs in Key West, FL

Florida drivers may soon be able to cruise down Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway while sporting a Margaritaville license plate. The legendary singer-songwriter died last year.

Looking to waste away with a cheeseburger in paradise? You could soon do so while driving down Jimmy Buffett Highway with a Margaritaville license plate.

Buffett, the iconic Florida singer who died last year, wrote songs that drove tourists to the Florida Keys looking for sun, sand and relaxation.

Now the Florida Legislature wants to return the favor. A state Senate committee on Wednesday unanimously approved two bills to honor Buffett after watching a short video tribute to him.

“Margaritaville is just what Florida is all about. Jimmy Buffett is the icon of Florida. No one represents the open sun, beaches, music more than Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville,” said Republican state Sen. Gayle Harrell, who sponsored one of the bills.

State Road A1A, the historic scenic highway that winds about 340 miles (545 kilometers) along Florida's Atlantic Coast, would become Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway under one bill. The other bill would create a specialty license plate with the word “Margaritaville” — a Buffett song that has become a nickname for Key West.

“I happen to prefer the one with the beach chair, the tree on the water and a plane," Harrell said while showing the Senate Transportation Committee samples of suggested license plates. “But it’s missing a red parrot. We need to add a red parrot to that one.”

While the bills were enthusiastically received, Democratic state Sen. Tracie Davis couldn't help express a little disappointment.

“I feel somewhat slighted that we don't have margaritas up here,” she said to laughs.

Proceeds from license plate sales will go to a charity founded by Buffett, Singing for Change, and will benefit Florida nonprofits that help victims of hurricanes and other disasters, Harrell said.

State Road A1A hugs much of the state's coast with stretches of incredible ocean views for those who don't need to rush south on Interstate 95. “A1A” is also the title of a Buffet album.

“As Jimmy once said, ‘It’s a sweet life living by the salty sea,’ and we could not think of a better way to honor him than by memorializing him along Florida’s coastal highway,” said Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book when presenting her bill.
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