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.

House Strikes Senate’s Expansion of Gambling

Protects Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand

For more than 20 years, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling and harming Florida’s family-friendly brand. This week’s action by the Florida House sends a message that Florida needs more engineers, physicians and teachers – not more blackjack dealers.

The Florida Chamber has long said that a new state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in Florida and contain it to tribal lands. The Florida Chamber strongly supports the House’s proposed gaming compact, sponsored by Representative Mike La Rosa, which holds strong against any further gambling expansion. The Senate’s counterpart legislation, SB 8, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano, called for a vast gambling expansion and was sent to the House following Senate passage last week. Showing strong conviction, Rep. La Rosa struck the Senate’s gaming expansion proposal and replaced it with the much more favorable House bill (HB 7037), which calls for a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The House will now send their revised version of SB 8 back to the Senate for consideration, along with a message that protecting Florida’s unique quality of life is a top priority. It is expected the bill will be discussed during conference in the next few weeks.

The Florida Chamber remains steadfast in our support for making Florida more competitive for businesses and families. By supporting the provisions as originally outlined in HB 7037, and now in SB 8, this bill will help ensure Florida’s family-friendly brand continues to play a role in Florida’s long-term economic security.

Take Action Now

For more information about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other gaming-related issues, click here or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

Protecting Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand From the Expansion of Gambling

For more than 20 years, the Florida Chamber has opposed the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling and harming Florida’s family-friendly brand.

The Florida Chamber has long said that a new state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in Florida and contain it to tribal lands. Therefore, the Florida Chamber supports House Bill 7037, sponsored by Representative Mike LaRosa, which holds strong against any further gambling expansion. Today, HB 7037 passed its final committee of reference and is now poised to be heard by the full House of Representatives.

In contrast, the Florida Senate is calling for a vast gambling expansion. Senate Bill 8, sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano, passed in the full Senate today.

The Florida Chamber remains steadfast in our support for making Florida more competitive for businesses and families, and supporting HB 7037 will help ensure Florida’s family-friendly brand continues to play a role in Florida’s long-term economic security.

Take Action Now

For more information about where the Florida Chamber stands on these and other gaming-related issues, click here or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

House-Proposed Gaming Compact Protects Florida’s Family-Friendly Brand

For over twenty years, the Florida Chamber has been opposed to the expansion of gambling in Florida, especially “Las Vegas-style” casinos, as we believe it is contrary to our family friendly brand and not the type of economic development our state needs. It is the Florida Chamber’s belief that a renewed state compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is the best way to limit the expansion of gambling in the state, by containing it to tribal lands. We must continue to protect Florida’s unique economy and long term potential growth by rejecting any further expansion of gambling in our state.

The Florida Chamber supports House Bill 7037 and its sponsor, Representative Mike LaRosa, for holding strong against any further expansion of gambling in Florida. The House’s bill stands in contrast to Senate Bill 8, which is sponsored by Senator Bill Galvano and calls for a vast expansion of slot machines and gaming. Both the House and Senate gambling bills were passed out of their respective committees last week. SB 8’s next stop is the Senate floor, whereas HB 7037 has not received its next committee reference yet.

As it has for more than two decades, the Florida Chamber will continue fighting to protect our family-friendly brand by opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling, as is done in SB 8, while continuing to advocate for a renewed Seminole Gaming Compact, as is done in HB 7037.

 

Take Action Now

Click here for more information on the Florida Chamber’s 20-year opposition to gambling expansion in Florida, or contact me at bhunt@flchamber.com.

Florida Chamber-Backed School Choice Bill Passes House

Today, the Florida House of Representatives passed a Florida Chamber-backed bill that would empower parents to choose the best learning environment for their students.

HB 7037, sponsored by Rep. Bob Cortes (R-Maitland), establishes a charter school institute to provide technical assistance to charter school applicants, increasing the likelihood that only high-quality charter schools earn approval to educate children. The bill also expands access to charter schools for students, as well as access to virtual K-12 education.

The Florida Chamber believes that a quality education, from early learning to lifelong learning, is Florida’s new economic development strategy and school choice is one way to meet Florida’s needs.

As Senator John Legg, Chairman of the Senate Pre K-12 Education Committee, said on a recent Florida Chamber Bottom Line,

“School choice is critical. There is no way that the traditional public school system,
a one size fits all model, will work.”

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