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Drivers in Florida will soon be cruisin' down Jimmy Buffett Highway

CBS News Live
CBS News Miami Live

TALLAHASSEE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed on Thursday two bills that honor the late singer Jimmy Buffett, one designating State Road A1A as "Jimmy Buffett Memorial Highway" and the second creating a "Margaritaville" specialty license plate.

The highway bill, which lawmakers passed unanimously during the legislative session that ended in March, will attach Buffett's name to A1A from Key West to the Georgia border.

"With this road naming, we are paying tribute to Jimmy not only as a musical icon but also a fierce protector of Florida's natural treasures and our precious manatees," said Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book, a Davie Democrat who sponsored the Senate version of the bill.

The other bill makes changes to the state's specialty license plate program and creates a series of potential new plates, including one displaying the name of the Buffett song "Margaritaville."

Buffett died Sept. 1, 2023, at 76 of a type of skin cancer. Born in Mississippi, his brand became synonymous with the Florida Keys.

In his 1994 song "Everybody's Got a Cousin in Miami," Buffett waxed "I am umbilically connected to the temperate zone/ It brought me life, it brought me love/ I never have outgrown."

Twenty years earlier, he released an album called "A1A," which featured several nautical-themed songs, including a concert favorite, "A Pirate Looks at Forty."

Proceeds from the sale of the "Margaritaville" license plate are slated to benefit the SFC Charitable Foundation, also known as Singing for Change, which Buffett founded.

"Margaritaville" was Buffett's highest charting solo single from his 1977 album "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes."

The state tourism market agency Visit Florida promotes online Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant in Key West, saying "once only a state of mind is now a state of being."

Buffett is already associated with the state's Save the Manatee license plate, which is the seventh most popular specialty plate. It benefits the Save the Manatee Club, which Buffett helped establish in the 1980s with the late Gov. Bob Graham.

As with most specialty plates, the Margaritaville plate must reach 3,000 pre-sales before it can go into production and must maintain that number year after year.

The bill, which will take effect on Oct. 1, also changes the designs of several plates already on the road and exempt Florida college license plates from the 3,000 minimum-sale requirement. The bill also will allow the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to reauthorize discontinued collegiate license plates.

The state's specialty tag program offers 113 different designs, with another 30 in pre-sale.

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