Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sierra Club Letter to Governor DeSantis Requesting Veto of House Bill 5


May 10, 2019

The Honorable Ron DeSantis, Governor
Plaza Level 1, The Capitol
400 South Monroe Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

Dear Governor DeSantis:

Sierra Club Florida urges you to veto House Bill 5 titled “Ballot Measures.” 

Tacked onto a bill in the waning hours of the last full day of the legislative session, the adopted amendment circumvented the legislative process. Specifically, the House added the petition-gathering restrictions to HB 5 which was focused on local sales taxes and sent it to the Senate. The Senate then approved it, though a separate bill that included petition-gathering restrictions failed to make it through the Senate committee process during the session. 

The petition-gathering process plays a crucial role in placing citizens’ initiatives on the ballot. The
legislation makes it more cumbersome and expensive to collect the petitions necessary to gain access to the ballot by:
  • making it illegal to pay petition gatherers based on the number of petitions they collect;
  • requiring all paid petition gatherers to register with the Department of State including provision of their permanent and temporary addresses, and requiring the gatherers to sign sworn statements that they will follow state laws and rules; and
  • requiring petitions to be turned into county supervisors of elections no more than 30 days after being signed by voters and includes penalties of up to $50 for each late submission- growing to $1,000 for any petition “willfully” not submitted on time.

There also are changes to ballot language. Specifically, the ballot would have to name the initiative’s sponsor, state how many out-of-state petition gatherers were used, describe the percentage of money raised for the initiative from Floridians, and provide a statement in BOLD regarding the economic impact of local and state government.

Sincerely,

Deborah L. Foote
Government Affairs and Political Director