TALLAHASSEE, FL – The 2020 Florida Legislative Session failed on more fronts than one. Instead of taking the next step towards comprehensive criminal justice reform, legislators passed bills that will gut Florida’s citizen initiative process, require employers to use the error-prone E-Verify program or similar identification verification for all newly hired employees, and force young people to obtain notarized written consent from a parent or receive a judicial waiver from a court in order to access abortion care.
Instead of heeding the concerns of individual Floridians, businesses, local and state leaders, faith leaders, and civil rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, the legislature chose to pass policies that will have a harmful impact on the state’s families, businesses, elections and Floridians’ civil liberties.
Micah Kubic, executive director, ACLU of Florida, stated the following on Senate Bill 1794 which passed both chambers of the legislature:
“Rather than enhancing our state’s democratic process, the legislature chose to build upon last year’s citizen’s initiative bill and shut out even more Floridians from directly participating in our democracy. Amending the constitution shouldn’t be easy, but this bill makes it practically impossible for Floridians and grassroots movements to amend the constitution to improve our lives.
“By drastically increasing the number of petitions necessary for Supreme Court review, shortening the time period signed petitions are valid, and increasing the costs for signature verification as much as ten-fold, legislators have made Florida’s ballot initiative process too costly and daunting for everyday Floridians. The super wealthy and special interest groups should not be the only ones with access to amend our state constitution. It’s blatantly wrong.
“The governor has a chance to do right by Floridians and veto this bill. We hope that he does.”
Kirk Bailey, political director, ACLU of Florida, stated the following on Senate Bill 664 which passed both chambers of the legislature:
“E-verify is a flawed and error-prone system that can bar Floridians from working. It is a system that can deem a worker unemployable based off of errors in government databases, such as typos, name changes due to marriage, and even additional spaces after someone’s name. It also lacks meaningful due process protections for those injured by these data errors, and instead burdens them with the responsibility to rectify this bureaucratic error. It's a system that precludes Floridians from being able to enter the workforce and sustain their families.
“It is no wonder that it received opposition from both business and advocacy groups. Florida should not be making it more difficult for people to work, and yet here we are. Passing this bill was a grave mistake that will harm working people and Florida’s economy.”
Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel, ACLU of Florida, stated the following on Senate Bill 404, which passed both chambers of the legislature:
“Let’s be very clear, requiring young people to obtain parental consent to access abortion care will harm young people. This bill is not about facilitating better family communication. It’s about banning access to safe and legal abortion, just as our southern neighboring states have tried to do.
“By passing this bill, Florida politicians have stripped young people of their constitutionally protected right to end an unintended pregnancy. It was passed against the advice of leading medical professionals and despite the fact that Florida Statutes already strictly require that physicians notify parents of their minor’s intent to end a pregnancy prior to any abortion care services being provided.
“Frankly this bill is unnecessary, unconstitutional and will result in minors being forced to have children against their will. It is a sham and a shame that Florida legislators passed this bill.”