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Legislation focusing on Constitutional amendments in Florida

Posted at 5:28 PM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 17:28:21-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A House committee Thursday passed a plan that would make it harder for groups to gather petition signatures to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

The proposal comes after 11 constitutional amendments passed in November.

Under the legislation approved by the State Affairs Committee, people collecting signatures for citizens’ constitutional initiatives would be required to be registered with the state, to list both their permanent and temporary addresses, and to sign a sworn statement that they will obey all state laws and rules.

Also, ballots would have to show the percentage of in-state contributions raised by the sponsor, disclose whether an out-of-state petition circulator was used to collect signatures, and tell voters if the proposed amendment could result in a tax increase.

Bill sponsor James Grant says the intent of the bill is to protect a document he calls sacred.

“Voters should be able to rely on truth, as far as who is behind it, who is funding it, what it does and what it is going to cost," said Grant.

However, Representative Margaret Good feels the proposal creates more hurdles for those trying to put an item on the ballot, adding the need for the citizens initiatives wouldn’t be necessary if the Legislature did what Floridians want.

“What helps the voters of Florida is doing what the voters intended," said Good. "If we were doing things like passing Medicaid expansion and preserving the land, and doing these things, then maybe we wouldn’t have the need for constitutional amendments.”

Bill proponents claim special interest groups, and people recruited by special interest groups, have abused the citizen’s initiative process.

The House measure is now ready to be heard by the full chamber.

A similar bill in the Senate has cleared two committees in party-line votes and awaits a hearing before the Appropriations Committee.