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'Why Are We Making It Harder' To Amend Florida Constitution?

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Continuing with efforts to make it harder to amend the Florida Constitution, a Senate panel Tuesday backed a controversial proposal that would require approval from two-thirds of voters for ballot measures to pass.

Currently, ballot measures can be approved with 60% of the vote. Senate Bill 1492 would make it harder to amend the Constitution, with the two-thirds threshold.

Ethics and Elections Committee Chairman Dennis Baxley says the bill would simply give voters a choice about whether they want to make it harder to amend the Constitution.

“The Constitution should be a defining document of the relationship between a people and their government. It should not be all of this policy and budget stuff,” said Baxley.

That’s because increasing the vote for amending the Constitution would itself require a constitutional amendment.

But Democrats, including Senator Annette Taddeo, feel the proposal is a result of the fact that several constitutional amendments have been passed in recent years on issues like raising the state’s minimum wage, restoring voting rights to felons and legalizing medical marijuana.

“This is a way for citizens to make a change that maybe in the legislature we weren’t able to,” Taddeo said. “So, why are we making it harder for citizens to ultimately approve an amendment?”

Voters in 2006 approved a measure that required constitutional amendments to receive 60 percent support to pass, up from the previous simple majority. If lawmakers pass the measure during this year’s session, the issue would go before voters in November 2022.

A House version of the proposal has yet to make its committee journey.