Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics
  2. /
  3. The Buzz

Amendment 4 bill: DeSantis says he’s ready to sign

The legislation (SB 7066) is aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that granted restoration of voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.”
SCOTT KEELER | Times Florida Governor Ron DeSantis answers reporters questions, Wednesday May 1, 2019 after signing a K-9 bill in the Capitol courtyard.
Published May 8
Updated May 8

Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday he will sign a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights are restored.

“I’ll sign it,” DeSantis said while at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science to discuss environmental issues from the legislative session that ended Saturday.

“The (constitutional) amendment says, if you read it, you have to complete your sentence,” DeSantis continued. “And I think most people understand you can be sentenced to jail, probation, restoration if you harm someone. You can be sentenced with a fine. People that bilk people out of money, sometimes that is an appropriate sentence. That’s what the constitutional provision said. I think the Legislature just implemented that as it’s written.”

OPINION: Sapping the life out of Amendment 4 was not what Florida voted for

The legislation (SB 7066) is aimed at carrying out a constitutional amendment that granted restoration of voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.”

The proposal, which appeared on the November ballot as Amendment 4, excluded people “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.”

But Democrats and many other Amendment 4 supporters say the legislation is too restrictive and would block people from being able to vote, with some comparing the need to fully pay restitution to a poll tax.

DeSantis, who had not formally received the bill from the Legislature as of Tuesday, rejected the characterization.

“The idea that paying restitution to someone is the equivalent to a tax is totally wrong,” DeSantis said. “The only reason you’re paying restitution is because you were convicted of a felony.”

Earlier in the day, the League of Women Voters of Florida held a conference call with reporters urging DeSantis to veto the Amendment 4 implementation bill. Also, the group called for vetoing other bills that passed during the session, such as a measure that would make it harder for citizens’ initiatives to reach the ballot (HB 5); a wide-ranging school safety bill that would expand the school “guardian” program (SB 7030); and a bill aimed at building or expanding three toll roads in mostly rural regions of the state (SB 7068).

Critics of the felons’ rights legislation contend it would create unjustifiable barriers to voting.

“Politicians this session disregarded the will of over 5 million Florida voters who supported Amendment 4 when they passed legislation that restricts the right to vote based on who can afford to pay,” said Kirk Bailey, political director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida who was on the call.

Bailey noted, without going into detail, his group is exploring legal options to challenge the bill.

Bailey also said he hopes lawmakers will reconsider the Amendment 4 implementation during the 2020 legislative session, a move that is unlikely as little change is expected in the leadership of the Republican-dominated House and Senate.

DeSantis also noted while in Miami on Tuesday that he may have an announcement later this week on a separate bill (HB 771) that would prohibit local governments from enforcing regulations on plastic straws over the next five years.

Currently, 10 cities across the state have rules governing the use of plastic straws, which have drawn environmental concerns.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Sen. Travis Hutson presents his Job Growth Grant Fund legislation to the Senate Education Committee on Nov. 12, 2019. The Florida Channel
    The original version would have targeted charter schools only.
  2. Florida Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, was the sponsor of a law that was to go into effect Friday that would have created new requirements for abortion doctors that could have limited the number of clinics. But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out similar Texas restrictions, raising doubt about the fate of Florida's new law. [Scott Keeler | Times]
    The delay, which kicks a vote on the bill into mid-December, could stall what may be one of state lawmakers’ most contentious decisions on a political live wire going into a presidential election...
  3. A flag supporting President Donald Trump flutters near the University of Florida's Century Tower before an Oct. 10 appearance on campus by Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle. A controversy over the political nature of the event has led to calls for the impeachment of Student Body President Michael C. Murphy, who helped set it up. Courtesy of Chris Day
    A push to oust Student Body President Michael Murphy comes after an email surfaces, suggesting he worked with the Trump campaign to bring a political speech to campus.
  4. Morton Myers, 40, is an entrepreneur, a lifelong Clearwater resident and now a candidate for mayor who comes from a family of Scientologists. He says he is not a practicing Scientologist and is running to bring change and representation to all residents. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Morton Myers says he’s not an active member. But with family on Scientology’s staff, he says he’s uniquely positioned to find middle ground with the church.
  5. FILE - In this Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 file photo, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi speaks to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, after meeting with President Donald Trump about about responses to school shootings. Bondi is preparing to defend Trump against accusations that he pressured a foreign government to aid his re-election campaign. And she’s stepping down from a lobbying where she represented foreign interests (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    “People are going to discover all over again what Pam Bondi’s made of,” says the consultant who engineered her foray into politics 10 years ago.
  6. President Donald Trump speaks at New York City's 100th annual Veterans Day parade, Monday, Nov. 11, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) SETH WENIG  |  AP
    Trump will speak at the Hollywood summit on Saturday, Dec. 7 before traveling to Orlando for the Florida GOP’s Statesman’s Dinner, the Republican Party of Florida’s biggest fundraiser of the year.
  7. President Donald Trump speaks in front of a painting of former President George Washington in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 27. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Trump pointed to Washington as precedent for an active businessman serving as president.
  8. The Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway was built in Tampa as toll road. Commissioners are divided over an elevated toll road proposed for southern Pasco.
    After frustration about their oversight of three potential new toll roads, the department moved up their timeline for scrutinizing the projects.
  9. Florida Senator Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, was the sponsor of a law that was to go into effect Friday that would have created new requirements for abortion doctors that could have limited the number of clinics. But the U.S. Supreme Court threw out similar Texas restrictions, raising doubt about the fate of Florida's new law. [Scott Keeler | Times]
    The Senate has opposed this bill. That may change in 2020.
  10. Blackwater River Correctional Facility. [Florida Department of Corrections]
    Data provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows the state placed more than 14,000 children in isolation while in the care of the juvenile justice department during the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement