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Miami-Dade county attorneys have questions about new law on companies doing business with Cuba

At Tuesday's Miami-Dade commission meeting, Commissioner Esteban Bovo called on Gov. Rick Scott to sign legislation prohibiting local governments from doing business with companies with ties to Cuba -- and on the county to follow it.

"The last time I checked, Miami-Dade County is in the state of Florida, and I would expect that we would comply with the law," Bovo said. "This is something that is very, very serious, and I would strongly encourage that the governor sign this legislation into law."

But Bovo and Chairman Joe Martinez said they have spoken to county attorneys who have raised legal questions about the enforceability of the law.

"We're going to have to bring it up," Martinez told commissioners, suggesting that they'll want to talk about the issue in more depth soon. "I always thought that we had to abide by a state law, but apparently they're preempted by a federal law."

Without mentioning the project by name, Martinez alluded to the looming, massive Airport City project proposed by the U.S. subsidiary of Odebrecht, the giant Brazilian conglomerate that also has a subsidiary working on the Port of Mariel in Cuba.

"There are things coming up in the future that I thought this would have addressed, but apparently it does not," Martinez said.

Hugo Benitez, an assistant county attorney, said he will send commissioners a memo addressing questions raised by the new law. "This is a delicate and difficult enough issue that we would like to address to the board members in writing," he said. "We don't lightly pass on enforceability in state law."

Martinez granted Benitez's request not to lay out the issues Tuesday. Then he told commissioners: "You know it's not good."

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