On Thursday, the Florida Supreme Court gave its approval to a proposed citizens initiative to “Keep Our Constitution Clean.”
“The proposal here is consequential but straightforward: for any proposed amendment or revision to become part of our constitution, it would have to be approved by the voters in two elections rather than one. The proposal otherwise leaves the existing constitutional amendment framework in place, and it treats all proposed amendments or revisions—however originated—the same,” the justices asserted.
The proposed ballot amendment that would make it harder for future constitutional amendments to pass already has collected enough signatures to secure a spot on the 2020 ballot.
In addition to hitting the threshold for overall signatures, the political committee has also satisfied signature requirements in more than half of Florida’s 27 congressional districts — another condition that must be met before amendments can go before voters.
The committee is pushing a measure that would require future constitutional amendments to be passed by voters twice before they are included in the Florida Constitution.
Increasing the necessary rounds of public approval, from one round, would make Florida’s constitution one of the hardest state constitutions to change.
In October, a survey conducted by St. Pete Polls found the proposed amendment was backed by 49% of voters while 30% were opposed and 21% were undecided.
Constitutional amendments need the approval of 60% of voters to pass.
This initiative is yet another potential hurdle for those pushing citizens’ initiatives.
Legislation continues to move that would make it tougher for the kinds of citizens’ ballot initiatives that have become part of the Constitution in recent years to reach the ballot.
Two such bills cleared committees in the House this week.
On Tuesday, a joint resolution for citizen initiatives cleared Judiciary.
It would “require the sponsor of a citizen initiative, to place the initiative on the ballot, to gather sufficient petition signatures to meet the 8-percent threshold in all 27 of Florida’s congressional districts, rather than only half of the districts.”
“The joint resolution would be considered by the electorate at the next general election …. If adopted at the 2020 general election, the resolution would take effect January 5, 2021,” the resolution noted.
Another bill relating to citizen-led initiatives cleared its final committee stop (Judiciary) before the House floor.
HB 7037, filed by Rep. Jamie Grant, firms up requirements for political committees pushing citizens’ initiatives.
Grant’s legislation, originally proposed increasing that to 50% in a quarter of the state’s congressional districts, but boosted that to all districts with a strike-all amendment adopted, conforming with the committee bill and a Senate committee bill on the same topic.
The Judiciary Committee approved on Wednesday SPB 7062, which like the House committee bill approved Tuesday afternoon, would call for a constitutional amendment that would let voters decide whether or not all districts should be in play for what are increasingly challenging petition drives.
Material from Drew Wilson and A.G. Gancarski was used in this post