A1A could be named for Jimmy Buffett


Florida State Road A1A won’t be undergoing any changes in latitudes anytime soon, but it may get a new title to honor singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

In a cheerful and at times playful motion, House members voted unanimously for a bill (HB 91) to rename the thoroughfare “Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway” from its tip in Ferdinand Beach to Mile Marker 0 in Key West.

“This may be the most fun bill of the day,” said Islamorada Republican Rep. Jim Mooney, one of the bill’s two prime sponsors. “Everybody in this room’s a Buffett fan.”

If approved in the Senate, the measure would direct Florida Department of Transportation personnel to erect “suitable markers” for the designation across 13 counties spanning the state’s east coast by Aug. 30.

A House staff analysis determined that installing the markers would “have an insignificant negative fiscal impact” on the state.

The A1A renaming would be especially meaningful in Buffett’s case; it was the title of his fifth studio album. He also referenced the road in one of the record’s songs called “Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season.”

“(Buffett was) a poet, a writer, a musician, an environmentalist, a businessman,” said Newberry Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons, the bill’s other prime sponsor. “While we don’t begrudge any other state — like, let’s say, Alabama — from trying to claim (him) just by accident of birth, that he was born in Mobile. In our minds, however, will always rightfully be remembered as one of history’s greatest Floridians.”

Mooney and Clemons declined a request from Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon to commemorate the vote with an a cappella rendition of a Buffett song.

“Singing?” Mooney said. “Come Monday, you’ll have that answer.”

Buffett first became a star in the 1970s with songs that blended country, folk and rock. Though he was not born in Florida, he became ubiquitous with the Key West lifestyle. His fans are called “Parrotheads.”

Buffett also became deeply involved with environmental causes in his adopted home state and campaigned for Democratic candidates.

After his death at 76 in early September following a four-year battle with skin cancer, Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered flags in Tallahassee and Key West to be flown at half-staff.

An identical companion bill (SB 84) by Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book has one more committee hearing before heading to a floor vote. Book’s father, lobbyist Ron Book, was a longtime friend of Buffett’s.

Christine Sexton of Florida Politics contributed to this report.