U.S. Congressman focuses on mosquitoes, insurance and sanctuary

U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo probably learned more about mosquitoes than he ever dreamed he needed to know. He was in Marathon on Wednesday and received a pretty intense briefing lead by Florida Keys Mosquito Control’s Michael Doyle, executive director.

“Only the females bite?” he said, his voice full of surprise.

Although the discussion touched on the agency’s structure, targets and methods, Curbelo said he was most interested to learn about the planned release of the genetically modified mosquitoes and the potential of drone usage to pinpoint delivery of mosquito control. Curbelo has a wait-and-see position on the genetically modified mosquitoes.

“We have to wait and see what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has to say about the pilot project. They are the scientists and we need to hear from them first, but I am confident the Mosquito Control Board has done their due diligence,” he said.

He said he also plans to involve himself in the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s coming ruling on drones.

After Marathon, Curbelo paid an overnight visit to Key West. He met with the Key West Chamber, toured Florida Keys Community College, met with the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition, attended a Key West Business Guild Mixer and met with fishermen. On the following day he received a tour of KEYS Energy and received a secret briefing from the Joint Interagency Task Force South.

Curbelo said his constituents were most concerned about the cost of flood insurance and closures in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Curbelo co-sponsored the Flood Insurance Premium Parity Act in 2015, currently under review by the House Committee on Financial Services.

“It would extend relief to owners of commercial property and also owner-occupied second homes,” he said.

Regarding some of the proposed closures to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, now in its 20-year review, he said he will also adopt a wait-and-see stance.

“I share those concerns regarding closures. I have a very healthy dialogue going with the rangers at the Biscayne National Park and they are set to issue their general management plan within the next couple of months,” he said. “That will be a good indication of what we can expect in the Florida Keys. We need to know that we can trust the National Park Service to do right both by the environment and our local economy.”

On his way out of the Keys on Thursday, Curbelo will stop at a Key Largo Chamber of Commerce function. Details about that event were not available at presstime.


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