Legislature 2005: We got off easy this time

May 14, 2005

Legislature 2005: Citizens win most rounds in clash over constitution

Floridians will be glad to know that the Legislature wasn’t able to “protect” the state constitution as much as some lawmakers wanted.

At this point, only one change will be on the 2006 ballot. Voters will decide whether to require that any proposed amendment get 60 percent of the vote to pass, rather than a majority. Given the intent behind this proposal, voters should reject it. But the outcome could have been much worse.
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If the House had been in control, the Legislature essentially would have gutted the power of citizen groups to put amendments on the ballot. The House would have required that citizen initiatives be limited to matters that deal with constitutional issues or basic human rights. The House would have required that any citizen initiative estimated to cost the state at least 0.2 percent of general revenue — about $52 million in the 2005-06 budget — receive two-thirds approval. (The Legislature, of course, would calculate the cost.) The House would have placed crippling and probably unconstitutional limits on the petition drives by which citizen initiatives reach the ballot. That last one was misnamed the Voter Protection Act. Gov. Bush likely would have signed them all.

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