Sponsors of an amendment to make it harder to change Florida’s constitution pulled in nearly $2.5 million last month, according to campaign finance reports.
The political committee Keep Our Constitution Clean‘s total haul now tops $8 million with November being its best month to date. And the group’s proposed amendment, which would require that future amendments face two rounds of voting, now has 416,846 of the 766,200 signatures it needs by February to appear on the 2020 ballot.
Increasing the necessary rounds of public approval, from one round, would make Florida’s constitution one of the hardest state constitutions to change.
Only publicly submitted amendments in Nevada require two-time public approval. And a proposed measure in North Dakota would allow voters to pass an amendment on a second ballot if the Legislature fails to pass it after the initial public ballot.
All of last month’s contributions came from the non-profit organization Keep Our Constitution Clean Inc., located at the Fort Lauderdale law firm Haber Blank LLP. In August, the group raked in $1.8 million.
In September, the proposal reached the necessary 76,632 signatures to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review. And last month, the Financial Impact Estimating Conference conducted its first of three required workshops on the amendment.
At that meeting, Tallahassee-based lawyer George Levesque spoke before the conference on behalf of Keep Our Constitution Clean. He compared constitutions to building foundations, which are central to a structure’s integrity.
“Keep Our Constitution Clean believes the same is true for government, that a foundational document should not be effectively relegated to a statutory status, but that they should be relatively immutable and unchanged or not easily changed,” Levesque said.
Florida constitutional amendments require 60% public approval before becoming legislation. Amendments may be proposed by the Legislature, the Constitution Revision Commission, a tax and budget reform commission, a constitutional convention or a citizen initiative.
Ballot measures must be made available to the public, including in newspaper advertisements, ahead of an election. In 2018, it cost $1.1 million to publish one amendment in a newspaper, $22,000 to translate the text and more than $58,000 to produce and distribute the literature by mail, according to state department officials.
In 2018, all but one of the 12 amendments on the November ballot passed. Each ballot question’s cost, which varies by county, depends on the length of the text and whether an additional page or physical ballot extension is necessary.