Republican Rep. Rick Roth is looking to make it more difficult to amend the state’s constitution, as he seeks to require a two-thirds vote to approve ballot proposals.
Currently, 60% of voters in a given election must approve a ballot measure to successfully amend the constitution. This past November, a measure to gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour narrowly cleared that 60% mark, earning just under 61% support.
That means under Roth’s proposal (HJR 61), that effort would have failed, as it fell short of the two-thirds required under his resolution.
Roth’s plan would put the question of whether to raise the threshold to voters. That is, if he’s successful this upcoming Session, the resolution would place a proposed amendment on an upcoming ballot — likely in 2022. If 60% of voters agree to bump up the threshold, then future amendments would require a two-thirds vote to pass.
The resolution does contain an exception for repealing previous amendments to the state constitution. It notes that “the repeal of an amendment to or a revision of this constitution only requires the approval by vote of at least the same percent of the electors as was required at the time of passage of such amendment or revision.”
That means if an effort seeks to repeal the minimum wage amendment or other amendments approved with 60% of the vote, the repeal proposal would also only require 60% support.
Roth previously proposed similar changes in the 2018 Legislative Session. He withdrew the measure before it advanced through any committees.
Roth’s effort follows a different path put forward this past November to put up additional roadblocks to amending the constitutions. Amendment 4 would have required Floridians to vote ‘yes’ on proposals twice before they pass. In other words, a proposed amendment would need at least 60% support in two separate elections.
Voters rejected that idea this past November, with less than half of voters approving the measure.
Roth’s resolution goes a different route. Proponents of these moves argue the state constitution should not be easy to change. While those changes affect all Floridians, they don’t require 60% of the state to approve them, nor even 60% of voters. Rather, they require 60% of those who vote in a specific election to approve measures that can have long-lasting effects.
Those who oppose raising the threshold argue voters need an outlet to act when the Legislature won’t. Recent examples include the minimum wage bump as well as a 2016 measure legalizing medical marijuana in the state.