Legal briefs ordered in solar amendment review

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The Florida Supreme Court on Monday ordered legal briefs to be filed for a review of a proposed solar-power constitutional amendment.

The utility-backed Consumers for Smart Solar is sponsoring the amendment titled “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice.”

The court asked for briefs by Jan. 11 – the day before the start of the 2016 Legislative Session. Parties then can respond to each other’s briefs by Feb. 1.

The court has to OK a proposal’s language and ballot summary before it can go before voters. An amendment also needs 683,149 signatures to get on the ballot, then must capture 60 percent of the vote to be added to the state constitution.

The amendment in question has 475,134 valid signatures, according to the state Division of Elections.

A competing amendment sponsored by Floridians for Solar Choice, a coalition of progressive and conservative interests, threw in the towel on 2016 and is “exploring options for a 2018 campaign,” according to a spokeswoman.

As FloridaPolitics.com reported, a payment dispute with a signature-gathering firm made it unlikely that it would get enough signatures by the Feb. 1 deadline.

That amendment reported 272,898 valid signatures as of Monday.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.