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Require Constitutional Amendments to be Passed Twice Initiative

Summary

“Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.[5]

The measure would add amend Sections 5 and 7 of Article XI of the Florida Constitution, as follows:

SECTION 5. Amendment or revision election.—

(a) A proposed amendment to or revision of this constitution, or any part of it, shall be submitted to the electors at the next general election held more than ninety days after the joint resolution or report of revision commission, constitutional convention or taxation and budget reform commission proposing it is filed with the custodian of state records, unless, pursuant to law enacted by the affirmative vote of three-fourths of the membership of each house of the legislature and limited to a single amendment or revision, it is submitted at an earlier special election held more than ninety days after such filing. If the proposed amendment or revision is approved as provided in subsection (e), it shall be submitted to the electors a second time at the next general election occurring at least ten weeks after the election in which the proposed amendment or revision is initially approved.

(b) A proposed amendment or revision of this constitution, or any part of it, by initiative shall be submitted to the electors at the general election provided the initiative petition is filed with the custodian of state records no later than February 1 of the year in which the general election is held. If the proposed amendment or revision is approved as provided in subsection (e), it shall be submitted to the electors a second time at the next general election.

 

LPF Stance: No Position

Description

If approved, this amendment would require all Florida constitutional amendments to receive 60 percent approval in two subsequent Florida General Elections instead of the current requirement of 60 percent approval in a single Florida General Election. This amendment would not have an impact on the number of signatures required for an Initiated Constitutional Amendment (citizens initiative) to receive placement on a General Election ballot.

 

Libertarian Party of Florida Platform

The Platform of the Libertarian Party of Florida does not currently speak to the process in which the Florida Constitution is amended.

 

Discussion

A Constitution’s purpose is to serve as a document outlining the basic principles of a nation, state, or social group. A Constitution does not encompass every law within a country. Nor does it encompass the Platform, Bylaws, or Standing Rules of an organization such as the Libertarian Party of Florida. A Constitution is the document which represents the supreme law of the land and the document on which all laws are based.

The intent of Amendment 4 is to make it harder to amend the Florida Constitution, the state’s most important governing document by requiring that ballot-led initiatives are passed twice in two subsequent general elections. The LPF is of the opinion that this amendment can be viewed as either beneficial or detrimental to Floridians:

To the benefit of Floridians, making ballot-led Constitutional amendments more difficult to pass streamlines the Florida Constitution. It ensures that difficult to repeal amendments, such as the $15 minimum wage amendment on the ballot this year, are not passed without extraordinary support. Another example of poor amendment choices was the Florida Monorail Amendment approved by a slim margin in 2000. It established a high-speed ground transportation system to connect the five most-populated regions of the state but the actual cost of the project wasn’t known. Once voters discovered the cost would be $20 billion to $25 billion, just four years later, Amendment 1 was repealed and the project was never built.

To the detriment of Floridians, Amendment 4 weakens the option of direct participation from voters in the state of Florida and is part of a trend following Amendment 3 in 2006 which changed the threshold for the number of votes required to approve a ballot amendment from a simple majority to 60 percent. While this amendment may streamline the Constitution, it places power almost entirely in the hands of the legislature and lobbyists in Tallahassee. It requires any group wishing to enact change through citizens’ initiatives spend twice as much to promote their cause for four years and two votes instead of the current two years with one vote. An example of a relatively expensive campaign that passed with a supermajority vote that would have gone to the legislature twice rather than once, is 2016’s Amendment 2 approving medical marijuana. This amendment passed with 71 percent approval in the state after a grand total of $9.5 million was spent both for and against the measure.

This Amendment does not prevent citizens from initiating constitutional amendments by gathering signatures, nor does it increase signature requirements for citizens’ initiatives. It does require a constitutional change to be so important to voters they consider it twice and spend twice to promote or oppose it. Amendment 4 increases the amount of time it would take for such initiatives and other proposed amendments to make their way into the state Constitution. It shifts initiatives away from citizens throughout the state and more to the Legislature and their lobbyist big-money influences..

The LPF takes No Position on Amendment 4.

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