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Politics

Florida Voices: Amendment 7

July 8, 2010 - 6:00pm

A Tallahassee judge struck Amendment 7 from the fall ballot Thursday, claiming the wording was ill-presented and voters would have no idea what it would actually do.

The proposed constitutional amendment dealing with redistricting was placed on the ballot because mostly Republican legislators and a handful of Democratic African-Americans in the Legislature didn't like two similar amendments -- 5 and 6 -- which they said threatened the rights of minorities.

The grass-roots organization that prepared Amendments 5 and 6 for the ballot, FairDistristricts.org, said its amendments, unlike Amendment 7, protect against favoritism and majority-party domination in drawing districts.

The court still must qualify Amendments 5 and 6 for the ballot.

The following represents the reaction of some members of the Florida Legislature after Amendment 7 was disallowed:

"Even with seven months of attempts, the sponsors of Amendments 5 and 6 failed to explain the workable application of their amendments or how the amendments would protect minority representation. Judge Shelfers inability to understand the process of redistricting afterlooking at it for only three days is convincing proof that Amendments 5 and 6 are fatally flawed. Amendment 7 was co-authored by legislative Black Caucus Chairman Gary Siplin and Minority Leader Sen. Al Lawson. I personally supported their efforts because I am not willing to stand idly by and allow minority representation to diminish. I fully expect Judge Shelfers standards to be applied to Amendments 5 and 6 and am certain that if that is done, Amendments 5 and 6 will be removed from the ballot.

Incoming Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island

"Todays ruling by the Leon County Circuit Court is a victory for Floridians who are tired of the special interests' control of the Legislature. I fought aggressively this legislative session against efforts by the Republican majority to place Amendment 7 on the ballot. Unfortunately, they prevailed because of the gerrymandered control they have in the House and Senate. The court's ruling vindicates the efforts of so many right-thinking Floridians who want to be able to pick their elected officials, rather than vice-versa."

Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, Democratic attorney general candidate

"Although there was no written ruling, apparently the court found that the purpose or effect of the amendment was to change the contiguity requirement. I respectfully disagree with the court's decision. There is absolutely no basis for this ruling in the amendment's legislative history or record. However, Amendments 5 and 6 on redistricting will be subject to judicial review later this month. It will be interesting to see how this ruling impacts the judicial review of Amendments 5 and 6. If the judge here found Amendment 7 confusing, Amendments 5 and 6 probably are as well, since they are far more complicated and have far greater impacts on present constitutional powers and rights."

Incoming House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park

Today, a Florida court has properly recognized the failings and deceit of a Republican-led legislative attempt to undermine the citizen-backed FairDistricts reapportionment ballot measures. The Leon County Circuit Court ruling is a victory for all Floridians who believe that political districts should not be drawn with the intent of helping incumbents and political parties retain their power. From its genesis, the Amendment 7 proposal has been a deceptive and despicable display of partisan power-grabbing by Republican legislative leaders. I am pleased that the court has recognized that the proposal is seriously flawed and doesnt deserve further consideration.

House Minority Leader Franklin Sands, D-Weston

Im a happy man. There is justice after all. This was a direct attempt to confuse the voters and I am glad the court saw it that way.

Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Pembroke Park

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