SSN on Facebook SSN on Twitter SSN on YouTube RSS Feed


Lawmakers Support Making it Harder to Amend the Constitution

April 9, 2019 - 7:00am
Rick Roth and Margaret Good
Rick Roth and Margaret Good

A move to make it harder to change the Florida Constitution was backed along party lines Monday by a House committee, with supporters saying it would lessen the influence of “outside interests.”

But the proposal (HJR 57) to require a higher percentage of votes to approve constitutional amendments advanced without support from Democrats and --- according to bill sponsor Rep. Rick Roth --- lukewarm backing from House leaders.

“Nobody in leadership really is in favor of this bill, but they feel like it is the right time to do it,” Roth, a West Palm Beach Republican, said after the House State Affairs Committee approved the measure.

The proposal would require support from two-thirds of voters to pass constitutional amendments. Currently, constitutional amendments can pass with 60 percent of the vote.

If approved by the Legislature, the proposed two-thirds requirement would have to go on the 2020 ballot because it would involve changing the Constitution.

Roth described the proposal as a way for voters to decide if they want to “slow down the process.”

“Change is better when it’s manageable, not disruptive,” Roth said.

An identical Senate proposal (SJR 232) has cleared one committee and awaits a hearing before the Judiciary Committee.

To appear on the 2020 ballot, either proposal would have to get support from three-fifths, or 60 percent of the House and Senate. That could be a stumbling block as Democrats hold 17 of 40 Senate seats, or 42.5 percent. If Democrats stick together in opposition, they could block the measure.

Democrats hold 46 of the current 117 House seats, or 39.3 percent.

Critics of Roth’s proposal contend, in part, it would increase the chances that a minority of voters would be able to decide the fate of proposed constitutional amendments.

Rep. Margaret Good, D-Sarasota, said the constitutional amendment process is a way for Floridians to address issues the Legislature has ignored. She blamed redistricting, which has resulted in Republican-dominated legislative chambers amid tight statewide elections.

“This is right now the only answer that citizens have to this very, very broken process,” Good said. “I believe that raising the bar to 66 ? percent of the voters is quashing the voice of the voters and the citizens of this state.”

Rep. Adam Hattersley, D-Riverview, said it is already difficult for citizens’ initiatives to get on the ballot and pass. Of the 276 measures proposed by citizens groups over the past 30 years, 34 amendments have made the ballot and 28 have been approved by voters.

“It’s already difficult enough for the public to have their voices heard,” Hattersley said.

The proposed changes are supported by groups such as Associated Industries of Florida and Americans for Prosperity, while opponents include the Florida AFL-CIO, 1000 Friends of Florida, and the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Roth’s proposal came after numerous high-profile constitutional amendments were on the November ballot, including efforts backed by wealthy supporters from out of state. Voters approved 11 of 12 ballot measures in November, including seven proposed by the state Constitution Revision Commission.

Roth, pointing to examples such as a 2002 amendment that banned a controversial pig-farming technique, described some of the amendments that have been approved in recent years as being “purposely vague,” “broad,” and “misleading.”

“With this resolution (his proposal), we protect our Florida Constitution and we can also insulate the people in the state of Florida and the industries that create jobs, to keep Florida what it is today and protect them from outside interests that seek to use our constitutional amendment process to further their agenda, not ours,” Roth said.

Voters in 2006 increased the approval threshold for constitutional amendments from a majority to 60 percent Since then, the success rate of proposed constitutional amendments has been 61 percent.

Only four amendments on the 2018 ballot --- measures to end greyhound racing, prohibit oil drilling and workplace vaping, strengthen lobbying restrictions and make it harder to expand gambling --- would have passed with the two-thirds requirement.


The people can't be trusted to vote coherently so we must restrain the initiative process until we can stop the fake and biased news that is preventing half the country from knowing the truth. How can those people who watch nothing but network news plus CNN and MSNBC have a clue as to what is going on in their nation let alone their state of Florida if they are relying on our local papers. The Sun Sentinel and other papers mostly just get their news from the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times. It is all garbage. There is so much good being done now that most Floridians probably don't know about. De Santis is doing so well because he is taking advantage of all that our President is doing for us by changing our school financing and policies, removing job killing regulations and getting rid of duplicative programs and working on closing out programs that have shown no improvement in society for years. There is no denying the facts if one can ever find what those facts are about job growth especially. Everything good for society and people of all economic levels, people of all faiths and people of every race it is a healthy economy. Let's hope the voting public in Florida are smart enough to not throw a wrench into a state that is booming with lots of jobs available to those who get themselves trained for some of these new job opportunities. I hope Florida will put a lot of money into Tech Schools to train up our next generation to be able to compete in the digital world. It is all good as long as we don't let ego, graft and corruption in our current leaders screw up this upward trend for everyone.

Follow the money! Look at where the money comes from to push these ballot initiatives. Everyone wants to believe it's all good, patriotic, grassroots - but it isn't - it just isn't. Look at the the BAWN initiative - the vast majority of the money behind that is coming out of New York and California. What we actually have are the uber wealthy driving Florida politics. Why? Well, duh - to benefit their own agenda. The interests of Floridians has nothing to do with it. It's all slick marketing campaigns and shoving their ideas on us. I say raise the percentage of registered and verified FLORIDA voters AND limit the money to FLORIDA voters ONLY and no donations over $100.

That is a good start, realize that most of the people are bumpkins, that have been spoon fed bs their entire lives, most of the people see them selves as right or left, democrat or republican, I hope the people can rise above how they were brought up, rise up and become whole, rise up to the task and challenge in this place and on this rock.

More Republican DNA: Reduce the hoi polloi's participation in government as much as possible. No democracy here. It's the autocratic and fascistic way ... or the highway!

The underlying problem to ALL of this unneccessary politicization is that politicians ignore, overlook, or outright refuse to acknowledge the complaints and voices of their constituents... unless those voices are politically certified "special interests", and/or accompanied by "hefty campaign donations". Politicians no longer do their jobs, unless it involves "re-election" to keep them in their useless legislative seats.. indefinitely !

Any way to silence the people...and these are the idiots you voted for... Who is really the idiots here...?

The real idiots ... and the most dangerous idiots ... are those idiots who continually vote against their own best interests. And ... the TrumpNuts are a good current example!

This is shameful behavior, using the ballot initiative the voters of Florida were able to make changes that the legislators refused to address. Why not raise the threshold to 80% or 90%, better yet remove the the ability of voters to have initiatives, if this keeps up these lawmakers will make voting a criminal act, vote them out before it is too late.

Once again the politicians are getting in the way. It isn't easy for citizens to launch citizen initiatives, let alone get them successfully passed. Why on earth would we make it more difficult for our voters to do so? It's because politicians think they know better than the voters. They sometimes do but generally they don't. As a life-long Floridian, I always found it refreshing and inspiring that Florida voters, every once in a while, get to have it their way.

Republicans have ruled Florida for 2 decades. In that time they have moved further from us, the people they're supposed to represent, and closer to special interests and those who support them. Ignoring us. They hate us. They hate Citizen Initiatives. They always inact initiatives as restrictive as possible. Usually far from our intent. Every lawmaker who votes to restrict CIs. Who votes to restrict A4. Who votes to restrict A2. Every one of them should go back to whatever they did before they got hooked on our dollars. Vote the bums out!

Exactly right!

You got that right Dean, ambulance chasers, dog catchers and used car sales, vote them OUT!

Comments are now closed.



Live streaming of WBOB Talk Radio, a Sunshine State News Radio Partner.