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How the Legislature voted on the devious Amendment 7

Second in a series of columns on key votes taken by the Florida Legislature since the last election.

Sometimes what our Legislature tries to get away with is bad enough.

But when the Legislature sets out to hoodwink citizens on purpose, we're at a whole new level.

That's why Amendment 7, put on November's ballot by the Legislature, was a special stinker.

Fortunately, this week the state Supreme Court kicked Amendment 7 off the ballot, to the usual complaints about "activist" judges and such.

The Legislature voted this past spring to put Amendment 7 on the ballot to undermine Amendments 5 and 6 — the two "fair districts" amendments that will appear on this November's ballot.

Amendments 5 and 6, proposed by citizen petition, simply order the Legislature to draw its own districts, and to draw districts for Florida's seats in Congress, without deliberately trying to help or hurt one party or incumbent.

No more gerrymandering.

Now, this may be a good idea or a bad idea. Maybe it will work and maybe it won't. We can debate it plenty.

But instead, the Legislature decided to try to hornswoggle the voters into neutering Amendments 5 and 6 even if they passed.

Amendment 7 was drawn cleverly. Similar to the two citizen amendments, it was titled "Standards for Legislature to Follow in Legislative and Congressional Redistricting." A voter easily would think he or she was voting for "fair districts" on all three.

But in the fine print, Amendment 7 actually gave the Legislature even more power to keep drawing districts as it sees fit — and declared that Amendment 7 would apply "without subordination" to anything else, even if Amendments 5 and 6 passed too!

Fortunately, our law does not allow trickery in ballot language. The purpose of an amendment must be stated in "clear and unambiguous" language. The voters cannot be conned by their own ballot.

Here's a secret: I disagree with the Supreme Court's specific reasoning. Those folks focused on issues other than it being sneaky about Amendments 5 and 6. But, like a baseball fan whose team benefits from the umpire's call, I'll take it.

Here, then, are the Tampa Bay legislators who voted to put Amendment 7 on the ballot:

Sens. Victor Crist, R-Tampa; Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey; Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island; Ronda Storms, R-Brandon.

Reps. Kevin Ambler, R-Tampa; Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin; Rachel Burgin, R-Tampa; Faye Culp, R-Tampa; Jim Frishe, R-Belleair Bluffs; Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; Rich Glorioso, R-Plant City; Ed Homan, R-Tampa; Ed Hooper, R-Clearwater; John Legg, R-New Port Richey; Peter Nehr, R-Tarpon Springs; Ron Reagan, R-Bradenton; Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg; Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill; Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.

Voting against putting Amendment 7 on the ballot:

Sens. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland; Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa; Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg.

Reps. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa; Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg; Rick Kriseman, D-St. Petersburg; Janet Long, D-Seminole; Betty Reed, D-Tampa; Ron Schultz, R-Homosassa.

How the Legislature voted on the devious Amendment 7 09/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 1, 2010 8:31pm]
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