Lawmakers Vote to Protect Florida’s Constitution

Provide Floridians Greater Transparency on Proposed Amendments

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 11, 2020) – Today, the Florida Chamber of Commerce applauds the Florida Legislature for passing a bill that will provide Florida voters with greater information about proposed constitutional amendments and better protect our state’s foundational document.

Today’s bill passage comes on the heels of polling showing broad bipartisan consensus among Florida voters that it’s too easy for special interests to pass amendments to Florida’s Constitution.

While the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis have enacted measures that have brought greater transparency to the constitutional amendment signature gathering process, given voters more information at the ballot box, and protected our state’s foundational document from constitutional clutter, more work was needed.

With today’s passage of SB 1794 by Senator Travis Hutson, important safeguards will provide further protections, including:

-Allowing the Florida Supreme Court to clarify if a proposal violates the U.S. Constitution,
-Ending the state subsidy of petition gathering firms by requiring that a sponsor pay the actual cost of validating signatures incurred by Supervisors of Elections,
-Giving voters more information about the proposed measure, which is effectively permanent, when casting their vote, and
-Saving government resources and reducing uncertainty by requiring a higher threshold for Supreme Court review.

“For far too long, special interest groups have bought their way into Florida’s Constitution, by placing poll tested proposed amendment titles that do little to explain what the amendment actually does onto voters’ ballots. Now voters will have stronger facts and information to better understand the amendment before casting their vote,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

According to Florida Chamber statewide survey results released last week, when asked about the process for getting an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, 76 percent of 800 likely voters said adjustments are needed compared to only 14 percent that said the process works very well and needs no adjustment.

The bill now travels to Governor DeSantis for his action, and the Florida Chamber is encouraging the Governor to sign the bill into law.

The Florida Chamber thanks both bill sponsors, Senator Travis Hutson and Representative James Grant (HB 7037), for their leadership on this legislation.

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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.

New Statewide Survey Shows Broad Bipartisan Support for Protecting Florida’s Constitution

Likely Voters Say It’s Too Easy to Pass Amendments to Florida’s Constitution & Lawmakers Should Take Action

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 5, 2020) –There is broad bipartisan consensus that it’s too easy to pass amendments to Florida’s Constitution, and the legislature must take action to prevent special interests from taking advantage of the system, according to the latest statewide survey of likely Florida voters released today by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

“While the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis have enacted measures that have brought transparency to the signature gathering process, given voters more information at the ballot, and protected our state’s foundational document from constitutional clutter, Floridians recognize there’s still more work to be done to improve this process,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President, Florida Chamber of Commerce.

When asked about the process for getting an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, 76 percent of 800 likely voters said adjustments are needed, compared to only 14 percent that said the process works very well and needs no adjustment.

Right now, the Florida Legislature is considering two bills, SB 1794 by Senator Travis Hutson and HB 7037 by Representative James Grant, that would provide stronger transparency by allowing voters to have more information about the measure when casting their vote.

When given a detailed description of SB 1794, 60 percent of voters said they support the bill. Again, survey results show this is far from partisan, with strong majorities of both parties, as well as independents, expressing support for the reform:

  TOTAL DEM IND REP
FAVOR 60% 55% 57% 69%
OPPOSE 21% 27% 24% 14%

Support for SB 1794 is largely driven by the perception that it’s too easy to take advantage of the current system due to the ease of amending the state constitution. When asked whether they agree or disagree that the Florida Legislature needs to do more to stop special interest groups from abusing the process, 78 percent of voters agreed.

  TOTAL DEM IND REP
AGREE 78% 75% 84% 78%
DISAGREE 15% 18% 11% 14%

“This robust response makes it clear that voters are ready for the Florida Legislature to act on what they see as an abuse of the constitutional amendment process,” Hart added.

SB 1794 is on the Senate Special Order Calendar for March 6, while HB 7037 is on the House Special Order Calendar for today, March 5.

ABOUT THIS POLL: The Florida Chamber of Commerce survey was conducted on March 1-3 by OnMessage, Inc. during live telephone interviews. The survey consists of 800 likely voters and was stratified to reflect historical turnout and the margin of error for this survey is +/-3.46%.

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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.

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Florida Supreme Court Approves Marijuana Amendment

Just minutes ago, the Florida Supreme Court issued their ruling on what is commonly referred to as the “John Morgan Marijuana Amendment.” The Florida Supreme Court ruled the initiative petition, ballot title and summary satisfy the legal requirement and is therefore constitutional, which means the amendment can be placed on the 2016 ballot, providing other requirements are met.

The amendment “Use of Marijuana for Debilitating Medical Conditions” still must reach the threshold of 683,149 verified signatures from 14 of Florida’s congressional district by February 1, 2016.  Currently, the effort has 400,032 of those verified signatures; however, they have reached their quota in only three congressional districts.

The significance of having this amendment on the 2016 ballot is huge. Our polling shows this amendment will most likely pass as Florida voters are compassionate about this issue and want people with debilitating diseases to have relief. And when we dissect the crosstabs, we find voters between the ages of 18-29, those over 65 and Democrats are most likely to vote for this amendment.

Let’s face it; Florida is the gateway to the White House. In presidential election years, voter turnout is approximately 25 percent higher than in non-presidential years, increasing from 45 percent to more than 70 percent. In the past, the younger voters have needed a reason to go to the polls. What better reason in a presidential year to turn out the younger voters and increase the 65+ voters than to have a constitutional amendment on the ballot?  You broke the code:  it is a voter turnout mechanism.

Should this amendment make it on the 2016 ballot, it will change the dynamics of the elections.

We are in for quite a ride.  So stay tuned and take care,

Marian