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Higher Ballot Threshold Supported

Florida voters have passed major issues via the constitutional amendment process
Michael Flippo
Florida voters have passed major issues via the constitutional amendment process

A House panel Monday approved a proposal that would make it harder to pass state constitutional amendments.

The House Ethics, Elections & Open Government Subcommittee voted 11-6 to back the proposal (HJR 335), filed by Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach. Under the proposal, constitutional amendments would need support from 66.67 percent of voters to pass, up from the current 60 percent.

“I can’t think of a better way to protect our Constitution than to raise the bar,” Roth said.

Roth has repeatedly proposed the change in past years, but it has not cleared the Legislature. If approved during this year’s session, it would go on the 2024 ballot. That is because requiring the higher voter threshold would, in and of itself, need a constitutional amendment.

Groups have used the ballot initiative process to pass constitutional amendments on a series of major issues, such as allowing medical marijuana and increasing the minimum wage.

Opponents of Roth’s proposal say groups have needed to pass constitutional amendments because the Legislature has ignored the public’s wishes on issues. They said Roth’s proposal would limit the ability to make such changes.

“I think that this (proposal) is really doubting our constituents that we serve and their ability to make informed decisions,” Rep. Ashley Gantt, D-Miami, said.

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The News Service of Florida