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Gambling amendment lawyer defends initiative

The lawyer for a proposed constitutional amendment limiting gambling in Florida fired back against critics, saying their arguments have “no basis in law.”

Dan Gelber, the lawyer for Voters In Charge, the committee behind the amendment, filed an answer brief with the Florida Supreme Court Wednesday.

The Voter Control of Gambling amendment would give Floridians more control over the expansion of gambling in the state.

Proposed amendments to the Constitution must be OK’d by the Supreme Court to ensure they cover only one subject and that their ballot title and summary aren’t misleading.

“The ballot summary follows the Amendment’s principle language nearly verbatim, so it fairly informs voters of the Amendment’s chief purpose,” Gelber wrote.

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“The Opponents’ argument to the contrary — that the ballot summary does not inform voters about its possible effects on statutes and pending litigation — ignores this Court’s consistent pronouncements that a ballot summary must fairly inform voters of the proposed amendment’s chief purpose only,” he added. “There is no requirement whatsoever that a ballot summary detail every possible effect on society, the law, or the economy.”

The amendment would “ensure that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling,” the ballot summary says.

It’s aiming to get on the 2018 statewide ballot. Such initiatives need 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

The amendment is opposed by a gamut of gambling interests, including “Floridians for Clarity in Gaming Control.”

It’s been described as “an unincorporated association of individuals and business sharing concerns regarding the proposed constitutional amendment,” ranging from “registered voters in Seminole County, Florida to arcade operators, members of Native American tribes, casino and lottery vendors and pari-mutuel permit holders.”

Gelber also is a former House Democratic leader and unsuccessfully ran for attorney general in 2010, losing to Republican Pam Bondi.

He also has been general counsel to Fair Districts Now, the coalition behind constitutional amendments aimed at preventing gerrymandering in political redistricting.

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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