Difference between revisions of "Laws governing the initiative process in Florida"

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Revision as of 10:39, 16 January 2014

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Ballot law
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State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Petition summary
1.2.3 Proposal review/approval
1.2.4 Fiscal review
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Florida may initiate constitutional amendments or call a constitutional convention via iniative. Florida residents may not directly initiate legislation or repeal legislation via veto referendum. The Florida State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Florida also has two commissions, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission and the Constitution Revision Commission, which meet every 20 years and have the power to place amendments on the ballot.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the allowable scope and content of initiated proposals. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In Florida, each proposed measure must address only one subject, except measures "limiting the power of government to raise revenue."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 3

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Florida does not restrict the subject matter of initiated measures. However, no amendment approved from 1994 onward may impose a new tax or fee without being approved by a 2/3 supermajority. A tax or fee is considered new if it was not in effect in 1994.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 3 & Section 7

Word count limit

If a joint resolution that proposes a constitutional amendment or revision contains only one ballot statement, the ballot summary may not exceed 75 words in length. If a joint resolution that proposes a constitutional amendment or revision contains more than one ballot statement, the first ballot summary, in order of priority, may not exceed 75 words in length.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: House Bill 7013

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Florida ballot measures

Florida law does not establish procedures for adjudicating conflicting measures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to collecting signatures, potential sponsors must register as a political committee for campaign finance purposes. The group must then submit the text of their proposed amendment and a proof copy of their petition form to the Secretary of State. The format for petition sheets is designated by the Secretary in accordance with state statute. (A sample petition form can be downloaded here.)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371, Section 2

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

The ballot title and summary are submitted by sponsors along with the text and petition form. These are initially reviewed by the Secretary of State. The ballot title and summary appear on each petition sheet.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 101.161, Section 2

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

Unlike many states, Florida initiative sponsors can submit petition signatures at any time. In addition, the responsibility for counting these signatures is dispersed to the Supervisor of Elections in each county. Proposed measures are only reviewed after proponents collect 10% of the required signatures across the state and 10% in each of one-eighth of the state's Congressional districts. After these preliminary signatures have been collected and proponents have submitted a ballot title and summary (initially approved by the Secretary of State), the Secretary of State must submit the proposal to the Florida Attorney General. The Attorney General is required to petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the measure's compliance with the single-subject rule and the appropriateness of the title and summary.[4]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IV, Chapter 15.21;Chapter 16.061 & Title IX, Chapter 101.161, Section 2

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

Proposed measures are only analysed after sponsors collect 10% of the required signatures across the state and 10% in each of one-eighth of the state's Congressional districts. After preliminary signatures have been collected and proponents have submitted a ballot title and summary, the Secretary of State must submit the proposal to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference. The Conference, after allowing for public input, must draft a concise statement of the effect of the proposed measure on revenue and expenditures. The Conference must also draft a more detailed financial statement of the measure's predicted effects and the methods used in the analysis.

If a financial impact statement is successfully challenged in court, only the Conference is permitted to revise it. If Conference leadership fails to agree on a statement (or revisions to a statement), a notice will appear on the ballot stating, "The financial impact of this measure, if any, cannot be reasonably determined at this time."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371, Section 5

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Florida signature requirements

To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, proponents must collect signatures equal to 8% of the total number of votes cast in the last Presidential election. To place a call for a constitutional convention on the ballot, proponents must collect signatures equal 15% of that total.

Year Amendment Convention
2014 683,149 1,271,127
2012 676,811 1,267,449
2010 676,811 1,267,449
2008 611,009 1,145,642

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 3-4

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

Proponents must obtain signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote (in the most recent presidential election) in at least half (14) of the state's 27 congressional districts.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 3

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In Florida there are no laws regarding whether circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating. The state does require any circulator affidavits nor any written statement from circulators that they personally witnessed any acts of signing the petition. There are no residency requirements concerning who may circulate petitions. Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted to the supervisors of elections in the county en masse.[5]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Administrative Code, Rule 1S-2.009(9)

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Florida law does not prohibit pay-per-signature or restrict the pay of petition circulators. However, proponents who choose to hire circulators forfeit the right to file an "undue burden oath." Ordinarily, initiative sponsors are required pay for the cost of signature verification unless they submit, under oath, a statement of their inability to pay without incurring an undue financial burden. An affidavit of undue burden can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 99.097, Section 4

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Florida does not require petition circulators to be residents of the state.[6]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Florida law does not require that paid and volunteer circulators be identified as such during circulation. However, upon submission, each petition form must include the name and address of the paid petition circulator, when applicable. In 2006, a Florida appeals court held that failure to include this information does not invalidate the signatures, but does subject sponsors to civil penalties.[7]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 106.19, Section 3 & Dockery v. Hood (2006)

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. Florida law does not address electronic petition signatures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

In Florida, signatures are valid for two years after the date they were signed. Signatures must be verified by February 1 of the year they are to appear on the ballot. As such, signatures must be submitted prior to the deadline. Election officials have 30 days to complete verification.

Note: HB 1355, passed in 2011, reduced the circulation period from 4 to 2 years.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371, Section 3

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

Initiative petitions are verified by the Supervisor of Elections in the county where the voter who signed the petition is registered. (Note: Florida petitions include only one signature per sheet.) Each county Supervisor of Elections may choose to use a random sample method for verification provided that certain conditions are met. First, the number of signatures in the local Congressional district must be at least 115% of the required number. Second, the process must be sufficient to estimate the total number of valid signature with 99.5% accuracy.

Prior to verification, the committee sponsoring the initiative must pay a fee of 10 cents per signature or the actual cost of the verification, whichever is less. The committee can claim that the fee would create an undue burden and request that the fee be waived by filing an affidavit of undue burden with the Division of Elections. Unlike most states, Florida does not require all signatures to be submitted in one filing. Review of the language, title, summary and fiscal impact of the measure is tied to getting a certain number of preliminary signatures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371; Chapter 99.097 & Division of Elections Rules, 1S-2.008

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

Prior to verification, the ballot title and ballot summary are proposed by the initiative sponsors and approved by the Secretary of State and State Supreme Court. Certified measures are also assigned a number depending on the order in which they are certified or referred by the legislature. (Amendment 1, Amendment 2, etc...)

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 100.371, Section 4 & Chapter 101.161, Section 2-3

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

Florida amendments require a 60% supermajority for approval. This requirement was adopted as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment in 2006 as the Florida Broader Public Support for Constitutional Amendments or Revisions Amendment.

In addition, no amendment approved from 1994 onward may impose a new tax or fee without being approved by a 2/3 supermajority. A tax or fee is considered new if it was not in effect in 1994.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 5 & Section 7

Effective date

Approved amendments take effect on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January following the election unless otherwise specified by the amendment.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 5

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

In the event that a county chooses to employ the random sample method of signature verification, challenges should be filed in the state district court for the county. If the case involves multiple counties, the challenge should be filed in the state district court for Leon County (home to Tallahassee). Florida law also stipulates that challenges to fiscal impact statements must be decided by the State Supreme Court.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Statutes, Title IX, Chapter 99.097, Section 4 & Chapter 100.371, Section 5

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

Since only initiated constitutional amendments are permitted under Florida law, lawmakers must use the ordinary amendment process to overturn successful ballot measures. In order to place an amendment on the ballot, lawmakers in each chamber must pass a resolution with a three-fifths majority vote. The repeal/revision amendment must receive the usual 60% supermajority for passage.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI, Section 1 & Section 5

Re-attempting an initiative

Florida does not limit how soon an initiative can be re-attempted.[8]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Florida Constitution, Article XI & of Elections Rules, 1S-2.0091 (7)

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Florida ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Florida's campaign finance laws include:

  • Florida treats most groups in support or opposition of a referendum the same like other political committees.
  • Florida has a separate registration status for groups solely funding advertisements through independent expenditures.
  • Florida bans groups that are designated as Electioneering Communications organizations to accept money from organizations that are listed as 501(c)4 or 527 by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
  • Florida has mandatory electronic reporting for campaign finance disclosure.
  • Florida uses a all-in-one electronic reporting system eliminating the need for paper forms.

State initiative law

Article XI of the Florida Constitution provides authority for the initiative process.

Title IX of the Florida Statutes governs elections and electors. (A full list of legal references to the initiative process can be found here.)

External links

References



Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Florida.

Proposed changes by year

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures


The following bills were introduced in the Florida State Legislature:

Defeatedd HJR 1231: Proposes a constitutional amendment to establish a state veto referendum process.

Defeatedd HJR 7: Proposes a constitutional amendment to establish a recall process for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, member of the Cabinet, and legislator.

Defeatedd SJR 1490: Proposes a constitutional amendment to establish a state veto referendum process.

Defeatedd SJR 422: Proposes a constitutional amendment to establish a recall process for the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, member of the Cabinet, and legislator.

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures


The following bills were introduced in the Florida State Legislature:

Defeatedd Florida House Joint Resolution 1259: Bill description/summary: "Proposes amendment to s. 5, Art. XI of State Constitution to require amendments to or revisions of State Constitution to be presented to voters in form & manner prescribed by general law enacted by Legislature."[1]

Defeatedd Florida House Bill 1261: Bill description/summary: "Revises terminology relating to election ballots; transfers to new subsection requirements applicable to joint resolutions; provides that joint resolution may include ballot summary or alternate ballot summaries, listed in order of preference, describing chief purpose of amendment or revision in clear & unambiguous language; requires joint resolution to specify placement on ballot of ballot title & either ballot summary embodied in joint resolution or full text of proposed amendment or revision; requires placement on ballot of full text of amendment or revision if court determines that each ballot summary embodied in joint resolution is defective unless Secretary of State certifies to court that placement of full text on ballot is incompatible with voting systems; requires Attorney General to revise ballot summary under certain circumstances; requires challenges to be filed within certain time; creates presumptions; establishes rules of construction; requires courts to accord challenges priority over other pending cases & issue orders expeditiously; provides for retroactive application."[2]

Approveda Florida House Bill 1355 (2011): HB 1355 contains extensive modifications to Florida's election law. With respect to initiative and referendum, the bill cuts the signature gathering period from 4 to 2 years. It also shortens the window for challenging legislatively-referred ballot questions.[3] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Defeatedd Florida House Joint Resolution 785: HJR 785 proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution, establishing a system for recalling the Governor, the Lt. Governor, a Cabinet member, or a legislator.

Defeatedd Florida House Bill 787: HB 787 proposes legislation required to implement the system of recall proposed in HJR 785.

Defeatedd Florida Senate Bill 1504: SB 1504 would reduce the petition circulation time from 4 years to 30 months. In addition, it would ban out-of-state petition circulators, per-signature payment, and petition circulators that have been convicted of fraud, forgery or identity theft in the past five years. If a petition sponsor is convicted of hiring circulators contrary to these provisions, the sponsor would be subject to criminal penalties. The bill's authors have included a severability clause since a legal challenge of the residency requirement is likely. Five circuit courts in other parts of the country have struck down residency requirements.[4][5] Citizens in Charge Foundation rating: Reduces initiative rights.

Defeatedd Florida Senate Bill 1700: SB 1700 proposes legislation required to implement the system of recall proposed in HJR 785.

Defeatedd Florida Senate Bill 2086: Bill description/summary: "Expands the list of responsibilities of the Secretary of State when acting in his or her capacity as chief election officer. Replaces a requirement for the Department of State to print copies of a pamphlet containing the Election Code with a requirement that the pamphlet be made available. Requires that third-party voter registration organizations register with the Division of Elections. Requires such organizations to provide the division with certain information, etc."[6]

Defeatedd Florida Senate Bill 7220: Bill description/summary: "Specifies a time period to initiate an action to challenge an amendment to the State Constitution proposed by the Legislature. Requires the court, including an appellate court, to accord the case priority over other cases. Requires the Attorney General to revise a ballot title or ballot summary for an amendment proposed by the Legislature under certain circumstances. Requires the Department of State to furnish a designating number and the revised ballot title and substance to the supervisor of elections, etc."[7]


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures


The following bills were introduced in the Florida State Legislature:

Defeatedd S 1494: Would require all fiscal impact statements to written at eighth grade reading level. The bill died in committee without seeing a vote in either house of the Legislature[1].

Defeatedd S 2610: An amendment to the Florida Constitution that would allow people who sign a petition to revoke their signature. The bill died in committee without seeing a vote in either house of the Legislature[2].