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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Florida Supreme Court Justices give the OK to 'bundling' amendments on ballot

Posted By on Wed, Oct 17, 2018 at 2:51 PM

click to enlarge FLORIDA SUPREME COURT
  • Florida Supreme Court
The Constitution Revision Commission was in their right to bundle three proposed constitutional amendments for the Nov. 6 ballot, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in a slim 4-3 vote on Wednesday. 

The Justices' ruling follows a challenge by retired Supreme Court Justice Harry Lee Anstead that said the ballots items were improperly bundled. The potential constitutional amendments include Amendments 7, 9 and 11.

The equivalents to constitutional grab-bags include:

Amendment 7 seeks to provide death benefits and nix some educational expenses for survivors of military personnel and first responders, while also requiring supermajorities to raise fees at universities. On top of that, it would establish a state college system as a constitutional entity.

Amendment 9 bans drilling for oil and natural gas in Florida's waters. It also bans using e-cigarettes (as in vaping) in indoor workplaces. (So you'd have to kiss that electronic JUUL cigarette at your work desk goodbye.)

Amendment 11 provides a ban on owning property if you're an undocumented citizen. It also prohibits retroactive application of changes in the criminal law. (In other words, the latter would allow people to have reduced sentences if a law is passed that changes their original crime.)

Following the ruling, Justice Barbara Pariente – one of the Court's more liberal judges – wrote in an opinion, "The bottom line is that the ultimate authority to amend the Constitution rests with the voters in this state."

She adds: "By bundling multiple, independent and unrelated proposals, combining 'popular' amendments with controversial amendments on the ballot, the CRC makes it more difficult for voters to intelligently exercise their right to vote."

"Indeed, in some cases, bundling prohibits voters from exercising this right altogether because it forces them to reject proposals they would otherwise approve because they disapprove of another unrelated controversial proposal." 

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