Tallahassee Democrat by Paula Dockery
June 22, 2019
It comes as no surprise that the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature has a history of opposing citizen initiatives amending the state Constitution.
A few examples: High-speed rail, fair districts, medical marijuana, land and water conservation, restoration of rights for nonviolent ex-felons. Voters approved all, yet the Legislature ignored them, delayed them or implemented them in a way not intended by voters.
It’s also no secret that legislators keep making it harder for Floridians to get citizen initiatives on the ballot and to get them passed.
In 2003 the Florida Senate formed a select committee that traveled the state taking public testimony on the constitutional amendment process and then ignored most of what Floridians said in its recommendations to the full Senate. As a result, the Legislature passed reforms that made it more difficult to get initiatives to the ballot.
The Legislature also placed a measure on the ballot that raised the threshold needed to pass a citizen-initiated amendment from a majority to 60 percent. It passed with 58 percent of the vote in 2006.
In its latest effort, the Legislature in House Bill 5 (HB5) made it more difficult to gather petitions.
What is new and disappointing is that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is jumping on the “citizens shouldn’t have a voice on proposing changes to their constitution” bandwagon.
DeSantis’ rationale for signing HB5 made no sense. At the bill signing, DeSantis said, “Last year, we had so many amendments that I think we need reform.”
Pardon my language, that is BS.