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Politics

Controversial Bill Restricting Petition-Gathering Becomes Law

June 8, 2019 - 8:00am
DeSantis talks with reporters after the bill signing
DeSantis talks with reporters after the bill signing

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed 38 bills, including a controversial measure that will make it harder for groups and citizens to put proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Lawmakers passed the measure (HB 5) amid petition drives designed to place a series of issues on the November 2020 ballot, including proposed amendments to increase the minimum wage, expand Medicaid, overhaul the electric-utility industry, ban assault-style weapons and revamp primary elections.

The bill places new restrictions on the petition-gathering process, which plays a critical role in getting initiatives on the ballot. For the November 2020 election, as an example, supporters of amendments need to submit 766,200 valid petition signatures to reach the ballot.

Among other things, the bill makes it illegal to pay petition gatherers based on the number of petitions they collect, a change that is expected to drive up costs for amendments backers. Also, the bill requires submission of information about petition gatherers, including their permanent and temporary addresses and dates of birth. In addition, it requires petitions to be turned into county supervisors of elections no more than 30 days after being signed by voters and includes penalties of up to $50 for each late submission.

The prohibition on paid petition-gatherers takes effect immediately, while other petition-related changes in the bill will take effect in 30 days, according to a House analysis. The changes apply to amendments proposed for the 2020 ballot, though they do not affect signatures already gathered.

Supporters of the bill have said it is needed to combat fraud and efforts by out-of-state interests to use the initiative process to change the Florida Constitution.

"Thank you to the Florida Legislature for protecting Florida’s Constitution from out-of-state special interests and returning the process back to Florida citizens," the Florida Chamber of Commerce tweeted after the measure was approved last month.

But critics argued the Legislature was trying to block citizens from amending the Constitution.

“It weakens the people’s inherent rights to amend organic law in the Constitution. That’s a fundamental constitutional right that the Legislature is essentially eviscerating,” lawyer Glenn Burhans, who chairs a political committee backing an initiative that would change the primary-election system, told The News Service of Florida recently.

The bill with the petition-gathering changes was the highest-profile measure that DeSantis signed Friday. Others included:

--- HB 49, which is aimed at making sure women prison inmates have access to feminine products such as tampons and sanitary napkins.

--- HB 375, which will exempt hospice doctors from being required to check a state database before prescribing controlled substances to patients.

--- HB 525, which renames Florida Keys Community College and North Florida Community College to The College of Florida Keys and North Florida College.

--- HB 563, which will help domestic-violence victims receive unemployment compensation if they leave jobs because of the circumstances of the violence.

--- HB 5011, which will add one circuit judge in the 9th Judicial Circuit, one circuit judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit, one Flagler County judge and one Citrus County judge. The 9th Circuit is made up of Orange and Osceola counties, while the 12th Circuit is made up of DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. 

Comments

and we are here present in this place that evokes so much emotion, consider your every solution, some prefer to be led and others to lead, the best leadership requires wisdom, understanding and some measure of acceptable intelligence, this writer affirms, a true warrior can only survive with Justice as an ally, consider this a cautionary tale, for in the untold epics there are many untold stories and many who seek Justice.

Screw the citizens! Republicans cater to the fatcats and monied special interests ONLY!

This will short circuit the liberals getting around our legal and lawful process that has been in place since the Floridas founding. By recruiting enough of the mob to meet the bare minimums required, activists were able to get these ridiculous proposals onto the ballot. Now they will need to be a bit more enthusiastic and Morgan will have to shell out more of his ambulance-chasing dollars to get these proposals on the ballot.

Republicans hate Citizen Initiatives. The ones they don't ignore they block by passing laws or regulations to implement in the most restrictive way possible. A2 still hasn't been fully implemented. A4 was "interpreted" as restrictive as possible. Older Amendments are just being ignored. The only folks Republican Lawmakers are interested in are their financial supporters and their base. Repeatedly they prove that. Just remember your statements when the wheel turns. When Republicans become the minority party and Dems run roughshod over you. You wanted it. You've bought and paid for it. When it bites you you deserve it.

Republicans hate Citizen Initiatives. The ones they don't ignore they block by passing laws or regulations to implement in the most restrictive way possible. A2 still hasn't been fully implemented. A4 was "interpreted" as restrictive as possible. Older Amendments are just being ignored. The only folks Republican Lawmakers are interested in are their financial supporters and their base. Repeatedly they prove that. Just remember your statements when the wheel turns. When Republicans become the minority party and Dems run roughshod over you. You wanted it. You've bought and paid for it. When it bites you you deserve it.

IT'S ABOUT TIME efforts are being made to FIX Florida's broken "petition system": the "Constitutional Revision Commission" has been Florida's fraudulently manipulated,"long running joke", for many decades.

Excellent legislation. As a Florida native I am darned tired of seeing Florida's constitution change as frequently as it does just because one or two well-heeled individuals have the financial ability to 'rig' whatever it is they want. This legislation restores exactly the reason for a representative form of government. If the constitutional change is really important it will get done--the Mickey Mouse stuff won't.

If you subscribe to this legislation you are part to repress the will of the voting population. Make no mistake the greedy and power seeking will never give up, only the ignorant will line up to march in defense of ignorance, mark this place, mark your your words, as I write the darkness is consuming this world, and your light is the only hope.

This shows DeSantis, repub party is against people having their say by voting for it...………. This is a blatant power grab by the repub party and special interests that don't like voters forcing them to do what the voters want...……..Where are the repub fighting for voter's rights?...……….A lot of votes are going to be used against repubs in 2020 as they show how corrupt repubs are...…..And with Chump on the top of your ticket, the economy badly off by then and the last 2 yrs of votes, their actions will come home to roost.

You vote for your Representatives, NOT for your "wishfully contrived" laws. THAT'S how "Democratic Republics" work ! (It's up to LEGISLATORS to "do their jobs",...NOT to avoid nor delegate that responsibility to halfvast committees, nor "Special Interest Groups"!)

You have a lot of hate. Take a chill pill Sparky!

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