Rep. Jamie Grant, R-Tampa, who'll play a key role in consideration of Amendment 4 on restoring felon voting rights, vowed this week that he will not be part of any attempt to obstruct or delay implementation of the amendment.
"My intent is that we will not have the kind of mess we had with medical marijuana," Grant said, referring to delays and litigation that followed voter passage of the amendment legalizing weed as medicine, and a controversial implementing bill passed by the Legislature.
Grant will be chairman of the House criminal justice subcommittee, which will handle House Amendment 4 legislation.
Proponents say the amendment, passed Nov. 6, is "self-implementing," and accuse Republicans of seeking to delay or weaken it through legislation.
Grant said he thinks an implementing bill may be needed, but not to delay or obstruct — possibly to spell out which offenders are covered, or even which rights are restored. The amendment restores only voting rights, not rights to run for office, serve on a jury or own a gun.
"Maybe we shouldn't be selecting which rights they get back," he said. "If we're taking the position as a state that somebody has paid their penance, should they have all their rights back?"
In any case, Grant vowed, "I will have no part of games to delay. I can personally guarantee my commitment as chair to get Amendment 4 implemented and get a bill out of our committee."
Grant can't personally guarantee passage — Senate passage and the governor's signature are also required — but his committee's approval would be a major step toward full House approval.