Friday, February 12, 2016

Orange County Charter Review passes tougher requirements on citizen initiatives

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 12:39 PM

Orange County's Charter Review Commission unanimously passed several proposals Thursday that would alter the charter's citizen petition process, and according to advocates, make it harder for people to get a petition on the ballot. 

The Orlando Sentinel reports the new process would now "require a petition drive to collect more signatures, pass a legal review by a panel of lawyers and add an independent financial impact statement spelling out the potential cost of the proposed change." And if you're worried about your dear commissioners, fret not. The Sentinel reports the proposals would only apply to citizen petitions placed on the ballot, not ones placed by the county commission. 

Surprising to no one, business leaders rejoiced at the new measures. After they fought hard against a grass-roots citizen petition in 2012 that would have allowed voters to decide whether Orange County businesses should provide paid sick time to their employees, and then got caught texting county commissioners while at a hearing, wouldn't you be happy, too?

"All of these processes have the potential to kill a petition drive," Michele Levy, co-president of the Orange County League of Women Voters, told the Sentinel. "What these changes will do is effectively make it impossible to get a petition on the ballot."

The Charter Review Commission still has to submit a final report with ballot language by June 24. The new proposals would go on the November ballot to voters. 

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