House committee advances 2/3rds requirement to approve citizen amendments
Florida constitution.

Florida Constitution
Florida today requires a 60% vote to amend the constitution.

A bill raising the threshold for amending Florida’s Constitution cleared the House Public Integrity and Elections Committee Monday. Members voted 11-6 on a largely party-line vote.

The legislation (HJR 61) would put a question to voters whether there should be a two-thirds majority requirement for proposed constitutional amendments to pass. Right now, it takes a 60% majority to approve an amendment.

Rep. Rick Roth, a West Palm Beach Republican, noted the Legislature must have a two-thirds majority vote in order to raise taxes in Florida. It’s not right that a smaller majority of voters can impose major policy changes in Florida when the representative government elected by the people must meet a stricter requirement.

“We understand as elected representatives of the people, now is the time to protect our freedoms and constitutional rights,” he said.

If passed by the Legislature, the question would go before voters on a statewide ballot, where, ironically, it could pass with just a 60% vote. The amendment allows for constitutional amendments to be repealed by the majority required when passed. That means amendments approved with the required 60% vote, would require 60% of the vote for repeal, but measures adopted under the 2/3 rule, would require the higher standard for repeal.

Critics of the legislation cast it as a potential barrier that would have killed many positive changes approved by voters in recent years.

Rep. Geraldine Thompson, a Windemere Democrat, rattled off a list of measures approved, but without a 66.7% majority. That includes the Fair Districts amendment and the Florida Forever amendment.

The League of Women Voters offered up other examples, like the $15 minimum wage, that weren’t considered by the GOP-led Legislature.

“Because the Legislature doesn’t act when presented with certain ideas, that’s why we have a citizen initiative process,” Thompson said.

Roth rejected the idea that some initiatives would ultimately fail under his proposal, even if they did not pass the first time. He noted Florida’s medical marijuana initiative, which failed in 2014 after earning 57% of the vote, passed two years later when enough support came out to exceed the 60% requirement.

“Good ideas may fail to pass, but if voted on a second time, may pass with better wording and more bipartisan support,” Roth said.

He also suggested partisan media makes it harder for citizens to make informed decisions on amendments.

“Success in a democratic republic depends on an informed electorate,” he said.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


3 comments

  • Charles

    March 29, 2021 at 2:06 pm

    This is 100% pure garbage and is designed to take away any public initiative. Politicians who support this lunacy need to be voted out.

  • Edward Freeman

    March 29, 2021 at 11:09 pm

    What a sick joke this bill and this clown Rep. Rick Roth are. I guess what this fool Rick Roth missed in 6th-grade Civics class is that in democracies the majority rules. The fact that criminal Senator Prick Snott imposed the ridiculous 60% threshold on Floridians without 60% approval is now being used to justify 67% approval. In all honesty, Republicans would like nothing more than to cut citizens out of Florida’s government altogether. To that end, they are also busy passing new voting restrictions and poll taxes. These are horrible, evil people who should be in Florida’s prisons not it’s Capitol

  • Nick Whitehead

    March 29, 2021 at 11:20 pm

    This idiot Rick Roth has apparently forgotten that majorities (50%+1) rule in democracies. This bill would make the military junta in Burma proud. Most of the Republicans in Tallahassee and Washington oppose democracy and average citizens so they are constantly trying to eliminate any role we still have in our government. They should be in prison not the Capitols.

Comments are closed.


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