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Florida Senate aims to limit constitution changes to 1 subject

Senators from both parties expressed concerns that voters are being forced to vote for constitutional changes they don’t support in order to approve changes they do support.
Published Mar. 28

Florida voters could be asked to restrict the state’s Constitution Revision Commission from placing items on the ballot that contain more than one subject under a resolution unanimously passed by the Senate.

Senators from both parties expressed concerns that voters are being forced to vote for constitutional changes they don’t support in order to approve changes they do support.

The commission meets every 20 years to suggest changes to the state constitution, which require approval from 60 percent of Florida voters. This year it placed seven items on the ballot, five of which bundled different subjects together. An example is an amendment that bans oil drilling and state waters and also vaping in places where smoking is banned.

Unlike citizen petitions and items placed on the ballot by the Legislature, the commission doesn’t have to stick to a single subject. Voters approved all of the amendments the commission placed on the ballot last year.

Two senators who sat on the commission, Republican Tom Lee and Democrat Darryl Rouson, spoke in favor of the proposed single-subject limit. They said other commissioners shared their concern about combining issues.

“There was a lot of conversation ... that some of this bundling could lead to an unhealthy outcome,” Lee said.

A House resolution has been unanimously approved in its first two of three committee stops.

Other resolutions moving through the House and Senate would ask voters to repeal the commission altogether, with sponsors arguing that it has become too political. The House resolution has been approved in each of its committee stops and is ready to be considered by the full chamber. The Senate resolution has one more committee stop after receiving unanimous approval its first two committees.

If approved by both chambers, the proposed changes would be put to voters in 2020. They don’t require approval from Gov. Ron DeSantis.


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