TALLAHASSEE, FL – The House State Affairs Committee today voted to pass HB 7089, a bill that undermines Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment that restores the eligibility to vote to Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all of the terms of their sentence. The amendment, which excludes those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, received votes from 5.1 million Floridians and passed in November.
The bill places unconstitutional restrictions on the eligibility to vote for individuals who should have their voting rights restored, as Floridians intended. Among other deficiencies, the bill creates additional financial barriers to voting that were not considered a part of a person’s sentence after receiving sentencing instructions from a judge and conditions the right of people who are eligible to vote on whether or not they can afford to pay fees.
The companion Senate version of this bill, SB 7086, passed the Senate Criminal Justice Committee last week despite constitutional concerns.
Kirk Bailey, political director of the ACLU of Florida responded to today’s vote saying:
“5.1 million Floridians made it resoundingly clear that they believe in second chances by passing Amendment 4. State lawmakers should be protecting the integrity of our democracy instead of obstructing rightful access to the ballot box.
“The House voting restriction bill is a blatant overreach of the state legislature, raises serious constitutional concerns, is overly broad, and thwarts the will of Florida voters. It will broaden the narrow exclusions for sexual felony offenses in the amendment, and expand what was contemplated by completion of one’s sentence to include monetary obligations unrelated to one’s sentence. It goes well beyond the text of Amendment 4 or what voters intended when they approved Amendment 4.
“This attempt to restrict voting in our state will continue to be met by concerned Floridians who will fight back to resist attacks on our fundamental rights. Lawmakers should uphold the will of Florida voters, stand for second chances and oppose this bill.”
More on the constitutional concerns of HB 7089 here: https://bit.ly/2FZwRRZ