updated 7/1/2008 3:04:37 PM ET 2008-07-01T19:04:37

A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a new Florida law that would have imposed a stiff bond and other restrictions on travel agencies and charter companies booking trips to Cuba.

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Lawyers for the companies argued that the measure appeared to pre-empt federal law and could put the agencies out of business. The law, which was to take effect Tuesday, would force agencies to put up a $250,000 state bond if they book tours to Cuba. Other travel agencies would pay just $25,000.

"This law does nothing to help the consumer or the state," the companies' attorney, Steven Weinger, said. "These are business people whose livelihoods are threatened because of the onerous bond conditions."

Weinger said the law also harms the companies because they would have to disclose the names of people with whom they do business with and their trade secrets.

The Florida law also carries criminal penalties and fines of up to $10,000 for violations of federal law, but does not specify the violations.

Republican State Representative David Rivera, who has championed the U.S. government's hard line against Cuba, sponsored the Florida measure. He said he hoped it would cut down on travel fraud, provide greater homeland security and deny resources to the Cuban government.

End of an eraDuring Tuesday's hearing, Weinger told the judge that 60 people were waiting at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, afraid to fly home because they were unsure whether they would be prosecuted under the new state law.

Erik Miller, an attorney for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said the law would not be applied to the passengers, and that they had nothing to worry about.

Miller noted the law was passed by a majority of the legislature and called it a legitimate use of state authority.

Slideshow: Fidel Castro: The Life of the Cuban Leader "It does not invade the province of federal statutes. There's not interference with foreign affairs. It only regulates in-state transactions," he said. "There is no intent to put anyone out of business."

The next hearing in the case was scheduled for July 11.

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