Ray Rodrigues wants to cap contributions to political committees backing citizen ballot initiatives

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Lawmakers will debate yet another proposal making it harder for citizens to propose ballot initiatives.

Sen. Ray Rodrigues has filed a bill that seeks to limit contributions that can be made to a political committee sponsoring a citizen-led constitutional amendment.

The bill, SB 1890, would limit contributions to $1,000 for “a political committee that is the sponsor of a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative.” Currently, no statewide limit exists on the amount that can be contributed to a political committee.

The proposal would put the specified political committees in line with the same contribution limitations put on state legislative candidates and county office candidates.

The legislation also specifies that the limitation on contributions for such a political committee no longer applies once the Secretary of State has issued a certificate of ballot position and a designating number for the proposed amendment.

The bill would only apply limitations to constitutional amendments proposed by initiative, a method citizens can use to propose an amendment to the state’s constitution. The state requires a petition with a number of signatures equal to 8% of the votes cast in the preceding presidential election in order for the proposal to be recognized.

Florida also has a signature distribution requirement, which requires that signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election be collected from at least half, or 14, of the state’s 27 congressional districts.

Citizen-led initiatives are one of several ways constitutional amendments can be placed on the ballot in Florida. The Legislature is also able to set proposals on the ballot.

The legislation will likely garner opposition similar to that of previous efforts critics define as attempts to make it harder for citizens to propose ballot initiatives.

Last year, then-Rep. Jamie Grant sponsored an unsuccessful proposal that would have added several provisions including raising the threshold of voter petitions to trigger language review, transparency measures requiring disclosure of out-of-state participation and shortening the amount of time groups have to gather petitions.

The bill would’ve also required groups pushing for a ballot initiative to pay for the signature verification process with local supervisors of elections offices.

Grant’s legislation received push-back, with critics arguing that the legislation would make it difficult for groups to raise money to gather petitions, and ultimately hamper the potential of citizen-powered amendment initiatives.

And, Floridians have expressed disapproval for efforts to make it tougher to amend the state’s constitution.

In 2020, six amendments appeared on the ballot in Florida, four of which were citizen initiated measures — two passed, two failed.

One of the failed initiatives, the “Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments” or Amendment 4, would have required all proposed amendments or revisions to the Florida Constitution to be approved by voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. Voters shot down the proposal in November.

The citizen-driven amendments that passed in 2020 included increasing the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026 and providing stricter wording for voting eligibility.

There is currently no companion bill in the house.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected].

One comment

  • Lee

    March 3, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    One more nail in the coffin of our democracy

Comments are closed.


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