In the closing hours of the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, the House and Senate slipped through a terrible amendment that will forever restrict the rights of citizens to bring questions directly to voters on the ballot. But it isn’t too late — Governor Ron DeSantis can veto the bill (HB 5) and defend our democracy.
Not only is HB 5 bad public policy, but it also directly conflicts with the Florida Constitution’s clear statement that this right is “reserved to the people.” To make matters worse, the amendment had not been analyzed by legislative staff, had never been heard in committee, and had never been debated by the Legislature until it was introduced on the House Floor late in the evening on the last day of session.
Any policy that restricts a vital component of our democracy requires scrutiny to the highest order. Our rights as citizens are not subject to the day-to-day political whims of the Legislature.
The ballot initiative process for citizens is a critically important check on the power of the Legislature when they ignore the will of the people. It is our duty as citizens to defend our state constitution and fight anything that makes it more difficult to exercise our fundamental rights.