Senate Committee Advances Bill to Return Florida’s Citizen Initiative Process Back to Florida Citizens

By: Edie Ousley

Florida’s Foundational Document Now Used as a Political Tool by Out-of-State and Billionaire Special Interests

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (April 1, 2019) –The Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee for advancing a bill that will return the citizen initiative process back to Florida citizens.

Originally created in 1968, the citizen initiative process was established to provide Floridians the ability to bring an issue of importance to the attention of voters. Florida voters would ultimately determine the fate of that initiative at the ballot box. But in the last two decades, that process has largely been hijacked by out-of-state and billionaire special interests who use the process as a tool to pursue their personal policy agendas– regardless of how the proposed initiative could impact Floridians.

“For too long, Florida’s Constitution has been for sale to the highest bidder, rather than a revered document that serves as the basis of rights for all Floridians,” said Frank Walker, Vice President of Government Affairs, Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This will ensure that Florida citizens are in charge of our Constitution instead of a few deep pockets from out-of-state special interests and billionaires.”

SB 7096 returns the citizen petition process back to citizens while also providing voters greater transparency into the process. Specifically, the bill will ensure:

• Signature gatherers are Florida citizens – the actual voters that would be impacted by the outcome of the petition.
• A transparent process that:

o Informs voters if the proposed amendment would raise taxes or impact government services,
o Informs voters about who is financially backing the proposed amendment, and
o Informs voters if the proposed amendment can be achieved through Florida’s legislative process.

• Florida’s Financial Estimating Impact Conference (FEIC) continues to provide a financial impact summary.
• Floridians can share their opinion about the proposed amendment with the Secretary of State.

The Florida Chamber has a decades-long tradition of protecting Florida’s Constitution from special interest agendas, and with SB 7096, continues its efforts to ensure Florida’s foundational document remains secure.

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Established in 1916 as Florida’s first statewide business advocacy organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Florida Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.