Democratic lawmakers have filed bills in the House and Senate that would make it possible for Floridians to directly propose legislation through a process similar to the state’s ballot initiative procedure.
HJR 349, sponsored by Aventura Rep. Joseph Geller, and SJR 1332, sponsored by Orlando Sen. Vic Torres, would allow bills to be put on the next general election ballot if they get petition signatures equal to 4 percent of the turnout in the last presidential election from half of the state’s congressional districts.
“In the chaos of the current legislative climate, the voice of the people is often not heard,” Geller said. “By giving the power to propose legislation to the people, we are abiding by the principles of direct democracy and ensuring that they can come together for a common good to make sure their issues are being addressed.”
Like ballot initiatives, bills would require a 75-word summary to appear on the ballot and would also have to spell out the economic impact. Unlike ballot initiatives, it would only take a simple majority, rather than 60 percent approval, for a bill to pass.
Under the bill, the governor would not have the power to veto legislation approved on the ballot, though the Florida Legislature could override ballot bills with a four-fifths vote. If lawmakers wait a year or more to overturn such legislation, it would only take a three-fifths vote.
Bills approved through the ballot would take effect July 1 of the following year.
HJR 349 first stop will be in the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee, though it has not yet been scheduled for a hearing. SJR 1332 has not yet received committee assignments.