Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sierra Club Letter to Governor DeSantis Requesting Veto of SB 7066


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 Senate Bill 7066 titled “Election Administration.” 
Passed by nearly 65 percent of voters last fall, Amendment 4 was supposed to automatically restore the voting rights of former felons who completed their sentences except for those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense. SB 7066 will require former felons to repay all restitution along with all court-ordered fees and fines before regaining their voting rights. The legislation does allow for financial obligations to be considered completed if a victim or court forgives the restitution, or a judge allows community service in lieu of payment.
We believe that the legislature has violated the spirit of what voters supported by making a person’s voting rights dependent on how much money they can afford to pay and this requirement will have a disparate impact on a group that is disproportionately black and may lack employment or large incomes. Amendment 4 does not need clarification, and lawmakers are merely attempting to undermine one of the biggest voting rights expansions in decades.
SB 7066 also will create an extra burden on Florida’s court system. There is no single entity responsible for tracking fines, fees, and restitution, which makes it unclear how people will be kept updated on the total amount they must repay, or how local elections officials will track who can and cannot register. Additionally, it doesn’t contain any information on how courts should handle the influx of people seeking to have financial obligations dismissed or converted to community service.
SB 7066 is a step backward for efforts to reintegrate people with felony records into local communities and we strongly urge you to veto this legislation.

Sincerely,

Deborah L. Foote
Government Affairs and Political Director