The state of Florida has conceded it will not enforce a law — ruled unconstitutional by federal courts — that tried to prohibit the state and local governments from hiring companies with business ties to Cuba.
The Florida Department of Transportation’s decision not to contest the June ruling by a federal appeals court marks the end of the short-lived legislation. It also paves the way for Odebrecht USA, the Coral Gables-based firm that challenged the law, to proceed with significant projects in the works — unless politics get in the way.
FDOT and Odebrecht agreed late last month to allow the federal trial court that struck down the legislation last year to enter an injunction permanently blocking the law from taking effect. A preliminary injunction had been in place since U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore found in June 2012 that the legislation interfered with the federal government’s authority to set foreign policy.
“This means FDOT cannot enforce the law,” FDOT Communications Director Dick Kane said in an email Thursday.
Though the injunction is aimed only at FDOT, it effectively applies to every state agency, said Jim Moye, an Odebrecht attorney.
“The federal government is going to continue to establish whatever it believes is the proper relationship with Cuba,” said Moye, of the Orlando-based Moye O’Brien firm. “Our client will continue to comply with the laws in that regard. It’s not for the state or local governments to attempt to set the parameters for the relationship with Cuba.”
FDOT chose not to go to trial to try to show why the preliminary injunction should be lifted. Instead, it agreed with the permanent prohibition and will reimburse Odebrecht about $500,000 in attorneys’ fees, Moye said.