Former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, who represented South Florida in Washington, died Sept. 17 after a long battle with lung cancer. He was 74.
Mr. Shaw spent 26 years in Washington but also served in public office in Fort Lauderdale. His ties to South Florida’s marine industry were strong, as recalled by a colleague.
While it is with great sadness that I write these words, there is also an equally compelling feeling of pride. No matter what capacity you may have been introduced to him, whether it be as congressman, representative, mayor or simply by his first name, you always shook the hand of a champion, especially if you were a part of the marine industry.
For those who never had the honor of meeting E. Clay Shaw, I will highlight just a couple of his accomplishments that blessed our industry.
We all remember the devastating effects of the luxury tax placed on our industry and others. In January of 1993, Congressman Shaw introduced the Boating Industry Jobs Preservation Act of 1991. The difference in years is more than likely the result of the time it took to finally get the bill introduced with 137 co-sponsors. That bill ultimately resulted in the repeal of the tax, saving hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country.
In 1997, Congressman Shaw was responsible for the enactment of the boat show bond that allowed foreign-flagged yachts over 80 feet to defer paying duty to Customs for six months as long as they participated in South Florida’s boat shows (Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Palm Beach). Congressman Shaw understood the significance of the show and the international market it represented.
When the Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) began the journey of removing the recreational marine industry from the federal jurisdiction of the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act in 2001, the first meeting was with Congressman Shaw to develop a strategy. That strategy proved successful in 2009 when the amendment was signed.
In 2002, the E Clay Shaw Memorial Bridge was completed. We know it simply as the 17th Street bridge). Mr. Shaw was a critical component of the project and was instrumental in acquiring funding for the project and maintaining its status as a drawbridge even though it was raised significantly over the waterway. Imagine the boats today that would have never been able to frequent our waterways if that had been a fixed bridge.
These are only a few of the legacies Clay Shaw left behind. I encourage you to visit the web and you will see decades of help to the citizens of South Florida and across this nation. So the next time you visit Fort Lauderdale, and the South Florida region, remember all of the many gifts the marine industry was given by such a great leader.