Political opposites unite to protect citizen initiative process

The League of Women Voters of Florida calls Proposal 97 “the worst of the worst,” and contends that it will “make it close to impossible for the constitution to be changed by initiative, by the Legislature or by any commission in the future.”

Proposal 97, one of more than 30 constitutional amendmsnts Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission is considering placing on the 2018 ballot, would count voters who vote neither yes nor no on a ballot measure as a NO vote against the meassure. Already, Florida requires a supermajority 60 percent vote to pass a ballot measure.

State Sen. Jeff Clemens filed Florida’s first medical marijuana bill while he was in the Florida House in 2011.

“It went nowhere,” said Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat. “It never received a hearing — and I received a lot of snickers and laughs.”

For the next two years, Clemens filed bills, including a comprehensive package in 2013 that also had a House sponsor. Clemens said the best he got was a discussion from Senate committee chairmen about holding a workshop on the bill.

Read more: here

A sharply divided Florida Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for voters to decide this fall whether Florida will join 20 other states in allowing the use of medical marijuana.

The 4-3 decision upheld the ballot language for the constitutional amendment, rejecting arguments from Attorney General Pam Bondi, legislative leaders and law enforcement officials who contended the proposal was misleading and, if approved by 60 percent of the voters, would lead to widespread marijuana use in the state.

Read More: here

Organizers of a Florida campaign for medical use of marijuana say they expect to submit enough voter signatures this week to get the issue on ballots in time for the November election.

State law provides that campaign organizers have to get 683,149 voter signatures validated by the counties before Feb. 1. and almost one in three backers are rejected due to failing to meet requirements. Still, Polls show the petition has a good chance of success

A wealthy Orlando trial lawyer, John Morgan, has committed $3 million to the campaign.

Read more: here

Former NBA star Tim Hardaway will be one of the first to sign an initiative petition to place an equal marriage constitutional amendment on the Florida ballot next year.

Hardaway’s petition signing will be open to the news media.

Read More: here

Student concern sparked a petition this March to have a UNF professor moved to tenure-track.

“We just want to get as many signatures as we can,” said Phillip Wenturine, a UNF English senior. “It’s commentary to show why Professor Ari should get the tenure that he deserves.”

Professor Mark Ari, a senior instructor at UNF, has worked at the university for 12 years. However, at the time of his hiring, Professor Ari was hired as a non-tenure-track faculty. The students were initially concerned Ari was being denied tenure, but this was quickly dispelled by Ari himself.

Read more at The UNF Spinnaker

Personhood Florida received a major endorsement this week from the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. The announcement is significant for the Florida affiliate of Personhood USA, which wants to place a “fetal personhood” amendment on the Sunshine State’s 2014 ballot.
Personhood measures, which would define life as beginning at the moment of conception, have cropped up across the country ”” most notably in Mississippi, where a personhood amendment failed on the state’s November 2011 ballot but might soon receive legislative support.

Read more at The Florida Independent.

Democratic Florida House Representative Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth has put forth a referendum he and many Floridians would like to see on the ballot this November for the rest of Florida to vote: should medicinal marijuana be available in our state?
The Libertarian Party of Florida apparently thinks so along with the majority of seniors and a growing number of doctors now “coming out of the closet” on the issue. The measure would allow marijuana to be prescribed to patients in need of its healing benefits

Read more at Examiner.com.

Osceola County commissioners will face a significant pay cut if a citizen ballot initiative led by a group of former politicians succeeds.

County commissioners now make $71,755 a year, but backers of the initiative want their pay cut to about $39,000, aligning their salaries with the county’s median household income.

Read more at Orlando Sentinel.

Lee County has turned down a request by backers of a destination resort casino to place a gambling initiative on the Jan. 31 presidential primary ballot. In a letter to Champion Development, the company that wants to build a billion dollar hotel-shopping-entertainment complex at the Forum alongside I-75, County Attorney Michael Hunt said the deadline had passed to add a referendum.

Read the story from the News-Press

A proposed state constitutional amendment providing wide-ranging property tax relief has cleared the Florida House. The proposed ballot measure (HJR 381) that passed Monday faces an uncertain fate in the Senate where similar legislation is mired in committee. It would give a tax break to owners of property not covered by the existing Save Our Homes Amendment.

Read the story from The Miami Herald

Seal of FloridaAnti-voter Florida legislators just won’t quit: Senate Bill 2086, which we told you about last week, is moving ever closer to becoming law. Another new version of the bill came out over the weekend containing the same restriction on the right to petition. If passed, Florida voters will have only half as much time to petition their government as they do now.

FLFlorida has one of the youngest petition processes in the nation: citizens gained the right to petition constitutional amendments onto the state ballot in 1967. Florida legislators, like those in most states, don’t like the people having a say at the ballot box, and have worked hard in recent years to make voters’ rights as hard to exercise as possible.

As members of the Florida Senate Rules Subcomittee voted in favor of stripping away state petition rights by placing severe burdens on signature collection, Senator Paula Dockery stood up for the people, saying:

“We’re making it easier for the Legislature and harder for citizens to amend their constitution,” Dockery said. “And I fundamentally disagree with that premise.”