Florida, as we all know, allows the citizens to collect signatures on a petition to place a proposed amendment on the ballot.
The requirement is to obtain signatures from equaling 8% of the total votes cast in the last presidential election. To ensure broad support, the petitions must be from at least half of the state’s congressional districts, equaling at lest 8% of the total votes cast in each district. The total number needed for 2008 is 611,009 that must be presented to the Supervisors of Elections in the county in which the petition signer is registered. They must be submitted before February 1, 2008.
Now, the legislature passed a bill that allows voters to revoke their signatures – and the verified petitions are also public record. Thus, anyone who signs a petition should expect to get a “what the heck were you thinking?” letter in the mail with a revocation form to sign and return. These also have to be submitted by February 1st.
SIDEBAR: Imagine if this had been the law in 2003-2004, when the Florida Medical Association and Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers were duking it out on the petition side… man that would have been interesting from a political science perspective.
Oh, and one more interesting note: these groups could use the primary election in January as the last-ditch-effort, and still have time to submit the petitions by February 1. This means there is no way group opposing the proposed amendment could do anything about these late signatures.
Let’s take a look at some of the major citizen initiatives currently gathering signatures, and how far away they are from their goal.
Florida Marriage Protection Amendment – “This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized.” Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 466,987. (For more info, check out Florida4Marriage.org.)
Comprehensive Plan Reform – “Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.” Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 244,518. (For more info, check out Florida Hometown Democracy.)
Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research – “This amendment appropriates $20 million annually for ten fiscal years for grants by the Department of Health to Florida nonprofit institutions to conduct embryonic stem cell research using, or using derivatives of, human embryos that, before or after formation, have been donated to medicine under donor instructions forbidding intrauterine embryo transfer. An embryo is ‘donated to medicine’ only if given without receipt of consideration other than cost reimbursement and compensation for recovery of donated cells.” NOT Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 72,480 (For more info, check out Florida Cures.)
No Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research – “No revenue of the state shall be sent on experimentation that involves the destruction of a live human embryo.” NOT Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 86,530 (For more info, check out Florida Cures.)
Sales Tax Reform, Part I – “Except for the payment of employee salaries and benefits, all non-taxed services provided for compensation shall be reviewed by the Legislature to determine whether the exclusion of each service from taxation serves a public purpose. Upon completion of such review, services currently not taxed and which are not exempted from taxation by the Legislature shall be subject to the sales tax on January 1, 2009.” NOT Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 63,547. (For more info, check out Floridians Against Inequities in Rates.)
Sales Tax Reform, Part II – “Each law granting an exemption to the sales tax shall contain a legislative determination that such exemption advances or serves a public purpose and shall contain the single subject of a single exemption.” NOT Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 63,134. (For more info, check out Floridians Against Inequities in Rates.)
Sales Tax Reform, Part II – “The legislature shall periodically review all sales tax exemptions except those currently provided for: food; prescription drugs; health services; and residential rent, electricity and heating fuel. After such review, the legislature shall reenact and continue only those exemptions that advance or serve a legislatively determined public purpose. Sales tax exemptions not reenacted and continued by the legislature shall be eliminated.” NOT Approved by the Supreme Court. Unofficial number of certified signatures: 63,042. (For more info, check out Floridians Against Inequities in Rates.)
While there are some other “fun” initiatives – JAIL for Judges, Vote at 16, and Instant Runoff Voting – as well as a bunch of new ones dealing with property taxes and property insurance. None of them are really moving along to gather signatures.