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Politics

Moody Files Fourth Challenge of Citizen Petition Seeking 2020 Ballot

October 5, 2019 - 7:00am
Ashley Moody
Ashley Moody

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has filed her fourth legal challenge of a citizen initiative vying for the November 2020 ballot.

Moody this week -- joined by the Republican Party of Florida and the Florida Democratic Party -- filed a motion with the state Supreme Court to block a prospective “open” primary proposal from being presented to voters.

“The proposed ballot language does not open Florida primaries, it eliminates them, and gives party bosses -- not voters -- sole discretion over the party candidate nominating process,” Moody said in a statement. “This proposed summary does not disclose that fact to voters and would undo a system set up to prevent political corruption and closed-door deal making.”

Of the six petition-driven campaigns that have met preliminary qualifications for the 2020 ballot, Moody has challenged four. The others opposed by the state’s AG Office are prospective ballot measures seeking to legalize recreational marijuana, ban “assault weapons” and deregulate the energy industry.

Moody's motion to remove the “open” primary measure from the 2020 ballot drew a response within hours from its sponsor, Tallahassee-based All Voters Vote (AVA) -- a 27-page brief filed with the Supreme Court stating its proposed constitutional amendment complies with all legal requirements for the ballot.

“The ballot title and summary of the AVA amendment clearly and unambiguously inform voters of its chief, and sole, purpose: allowing all qualified registered voters to vote in primary elections for state elective office without regard to the party affiliation of voters and candidates,” AVA wrote.

Florida is one of nine states with “closed” primary elections limited exclusively to party-registered voters. Under AVA’s proposal, registered voters could cast ballots in “open” primary elections for State Legislature, Governor and Cabinet, regardless of political affiliation.

The two candidates getting the most votes in each “open” primary would advance to the general election -- a “jungle” system similar to California’s.

AVA has received $6.745 million in contributions, including $6.4 million since April, with more than $6 million coming from Miami healthcare executive Mike Fernandez.

In addition to Moody’s complaint, Florida’s Democratic and Republican parties also argue the Supreme Court should block it from the ballot.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terri Rizzo said the two 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidates received more GOP primary votes each than did any one of the Democratic primary’s five hopefuls.

“If this had been law in 2018, voters would have had to choose between Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam for governor,” Rizzo said. “A proposal which would eliminate the chance for a Democrat to make the ballot is not democratic.”

Republicans also want the measure stricken from the ballot.

“Voters considering whether to adopt such a radical change to Florida’s election process are entitled to a ballot summary that clearly and unambiguously describes the choice before them and is not misleading,” GOP attorneys wrote in their complaint. “The proposal here fails to satisfy this basic – yet critically important – legal requirement.”.

The Supreme Court on Feb. 4 will review Moody’s objections to ballot language for the prospective “assault weapons” ban and legalizing recreational marijuana constitutional amendments.

Ban Assault Weapons Now’s (BAWN) proposal had submitted 111,935 signatures to the DOE as of Thursday afternoon.

Its language is “clearly and conclusively defective,” Moody argued in a July 26 petition to block it from being on the ballot, stating the proposal asks voters to virtually ban every semi-automatic long-barreled firearm, including shotguns, as “assault weapons.”

Sensible Florida’s "Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol to Establish Age, Licensing, and Other Restrictions" proposal would, essentially, legalize use and possession of marijuana by adults at least 21 years old. As of Thursday, it had submitted 91,318 signatures to the DOE.

Moody on Sept. 11 petitioned the Supreme Court to not allow Sensible Florida’s “misleading” initiative from qualifying for the ballot, noting the prospective measure’s language is longer than Article I of Florida’s Constitution and 30 Constitutional amendments combined.

“There’s no way 10 pages of the law can be summarized clearly in 75 words,” Moody said, referring to the word limit for summaries voters will see on the ballot.

Moody has also petitioned to remove from the ballot a prospective "Energy Choice" measure that would allow individual customers to choose energy providers or produce their own. As of Thursday, 457,966 voters had signed onto the initiative.

Moody, House and Senate leaders, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Health Care Association and the Florida Public Service Commission are among those seeking to short-circuit the “energy choice” measure.

Opponents call it a “Frankenstein’s Monster of policies” and a power grab by start-up companies that want to carve into a market dominated by four investor-owned utilities.

John Haughey is the Florida contributor to The Center Square.

Comments

The Republican Way (now, the Trump Way) - screw the citizens and pander to and cater to the party's special interests! NO MORE REPUBLICANS!

I'm gonna get signatures statewide to amend Florida's's Constitution to forever ban all citizen initiatives to amend the constitution. Throwing it back to our elected officials as it was intended to be. ... . Whine all you want leftist cry-cry-babies its gonna overwhelmingly pass!!!

Nutty. Anti-democracy. Beyond Trump creepy.

Great idea. Citizen initiatives are based on feelings not logic or fact. They do more to hurt the citizens of this state with unintended consequences than any benefit derived from them. Citizen initiatives are nothing more than mob rule and the mob is mostly lead by people who FEEL something should be done but never base what they want done on fact or logic. We are a Republic. We are NOT a democracy(thank god). So, lets act like a Republic and let our representative do their job.

Rome, under Julius Caesar and other dictatorial leaders like him, was also a "Republic". You can see how far that got Julius.

A large part of what you say is true and accurate, yet somehow it misses the fundamental reasons why the American Experiment was ever fought for--I quote from the Declaration of Independence---We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpation's, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — It is the right of the governed to change the government when it no longer responds to the needs of the people. The reason why citizen initiatives are becoming more frequent is because the elected representatives are out of touch with the people and so the people must act to regain the proper workings of government. In simple terms, this pay to play form of government works for people who have money, and since most Americans are working folk and do not have the money to pay to play thus they are left out of the process.

Best comment ever. The Citizens United decision opened the floodgates of big money into our politics. Billionaires with time on their hands run for president. Government has always been run by the wealthy, going back to our own aristocracy, but now the cost to run and stay in office silences the voice of the public in favor of special interests. We should learn one thing from our current predicament: career politicians, who actually understand how government works, are best able to run it properly, just as an experienced professional can best perform his or her trade, IF they are free of fundraising pressure. Legislate an end to Citizens United, mandate public financing and campaign limits, enforce regulations of truth in advertising and punish violations of election laws with disqualification.

The Citizens United decision clearly screwed the ordinary citizens of this country and was absolutely an anti-democracy decision - which the fascist Republicans just love!

You sound like a very trusting person, you trust that your elected officials will do what is best for you. On the other hand how many of these trusted officials are getting caught with their fingers in the cookie jar? How many of these trusted officials are being investigated for crimes? ---https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NWn7TXJAbw----Edward Snowden On His New Book "Permanent Record"

C;mon, dude! Would you really trust Trump with ANYthing?

There is corruption in the current process of laying out the emotional feel good constitutional amendment process. Big funding from leftist interests paying people to get signatures ect...it's a process riddled with fraud and you know it.

The BIGGEST FRAUD in American History is the current racist, corrupt, draft-dodging, lying, and cheating piece of trash currently occupying the White House!

Colt, You are absolutely correct.

You're as nutty as he is!

But Mr Sondheim can donate $1,000,000 to Trump's inaugural committee, and then suddenly be appointed ambassador to the European Union? I had hoped when Trump laughed about Caroline Kennedy being appointed ambassador to Japan, a major trading partner, that maybe he would change things and drain the swamp. Instead he dreams of filling it with snakes and alligators.

Chuckle, chuckle, chuckle. Trump is clearly 'the creature from the black lagoon'. A true swamp creepazoid! (And, a Florida creation via Wakulla Springs!)

That is one busy gal.

BAWN, Check their definition of semi automatic. A common double barrel shotgun meets the def. it won’t be obvious until after the fact. Once adopted they will claim that many more guns could fit their broad definition of assault weapon. BAD kimchee!

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