State Senate moves on ‘bundled’ ballot measures

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BY JIM TURNER
NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE ‒ After controversy last year about “bundled” ballot measures, a proposal is ready to go to the full Senate that would place new restrictions on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a measure that would place a single-subject requirement on constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by the commission, which meets every 20 years.

If ultimately approved during the legislative session that started last week, the measure would go before voters in 2020 because it would involve changing the state Constitution.

Unrelated issues confusing?

The proposal is a direct response to five proposals that the commission put on the November 2018 ballot that tied together seemingly unrelated issues. For example, one proposal combined a ban on offshore oil drilling with a ban on vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces.

Senate sponsor Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, said bundling multiple subjects into single amendments required some Floridians to vote for issues they opposed, because those issues were anchored to other subjects they supported.

“The one complaint I heard from my constituents over and over again was, ‘What the heck was up with those constitutional amendments? They were addressing more than one issue. I really liked, for instance, the offshore drilling ban, but I was a little unsure of the vaping,’” Bradley said.

Abolishing  commission proposed

A separate proposal would abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which has unique powers to put proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. Those proposals have advanced in the House and Senate.

Last year, the 37-member commission put seven proposed amendments on the ballot. Five included more than a single subject. All of those proposals were approved by voters.

The commission, whose members are mostly appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, doesn’t meet again until 2037.

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