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Florida Lawmakers Want to Require 66.66% Voter Approval for Amending the Constitution

April 8th, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

Stung by voter approval of Medical Marijuana and felons voting rights, state lawmakers are pursuing two avenues for making it harder to amend the constitution.

The first would allow only Florida residents to collect signatures.

The second, would raise the number of votes needed to change the constitution.

Voters earned the right to change their constitution through petitions in 1968.

It was first used by then Governor Reubin Askew, after lawmakers refused to require financial disclosure.

“They wouldn’t do it, so I went out on the stump,” said Askew.

And so it’s been for decades.

When lawmakers say no, citizens can go around them, but it could soon get harder to pass a ballot initiative.

State Senator Dennis Baxley wants to raise the approval mark for amendments from 60% to 66.66%.

“People go around the elected body and put things directly into the constitution that are policy and budget issues,” said Baxley. “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”

Representative Rick Roth is the House Sponsor.

“It’s going to be a little bit harder to get into the constitution, but also, i’ll pretty much require things to be more bipartisan too,” said Roth.

But math may get in the way.

Democrats picked up a seat in the state Senate, leaving the GOP with 23 seats.

It’s one shy of the number required to put an amendment on the ballot.

We asked Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson if Democrats intend to block the bill.

“We will see,” said Gibson.

While a two thirds vote isn’t an obstacle that can’t be overcome, it likely to dissuade some groups from even trying.

In 2006, Voters approved raising the threshold for amendments to 60 percent.

Ironically, it passed with just under 58% of the vote.

While The GOP may not have the votes to try changing the constitution, they do have the votes to place restrictions on petition gathering organizations, which could also make it harder to make future changes.

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