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League & groups denounce anti-democratic actions during 2019 Legislative Session

On Tuesday the League of Women Voters of Florida hosted a press call with partner organizations denouncing the state Legislature’s demonstrated disregard for the voices of the people of Florida. They called on Gov. Ron DeSantis to exercise his veto authority on several bills, including SB 7066, HB 5, SB 7030, and SB 7068.

“We watched legislators at the eleventh hour amend a reasonable election reform bill with last-minute language creating unjustifiable barriers to returning citizens, counter to the purpose of Amendment 4. We witnessed – on the last night of Session – a tax bill amended to add unrelated language imposing, again, unjustifiable barriers to citizens engaging in the political process,” said Patricia Brigham, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “It was evident that the majority of lawmakers had made up their minds how they were going to vote long before they reached Tallahassee, will of the people be damned.”

The League has requested that Gov. DeSantis call for a special Session to pass an election reform bill that does not impose financial barriers on the right to vote for returning citizens.

“This Legislative Session was the most harmful and devastating for Floridians’ civil rights and civil liberties in a decade. Legislators adopted and passed anti-civil liberties bills that will tear families apart and bar hundreds of thousands of Floridians from voting,” said Kirk Bailey, Political Director for ACLU of Florida. “Politicians this Session disregarded the will of over 5 million Florida voters who supported Amendment 4 when they passed legislation that restricts the right to vote based on who can afford to pay. They also insisted on approving a misguided anti-immigrant policy despite grave constitutional concerns. In passing SB 168, they opted to deputize local agents as ICE agents, create a statewide environment of fear, and encourage racial profiling of immigrants and people of color which is guaranteed to separate immigrant families.”

Scott McCoy, Senior Policy Counsel for the SPLC Action Fund, stated, “The 2019 Legislative Session was a dark day for Florida’s democracy. Whether it was gross misinterpretation of Amendment 4 through a so-called “implementing” bill or restricting the citizen initiative process for constitutional amendments, the majority in the Florida Legislature thumbed its nose at the clearly expressed will of the people and their prerogative to amend the Constitution without relying on unresponsive and out-of-touch Tallahassee politicians, who care more about retaining power and doing the bidding of special interests that fund their campaigns.”

“The Florida Legislature is trying to circumvent the will of voters,” said Eliza Sweren-Becker, Voting Rights Counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Floridians overwhelmingly supported the automatic restoration of voting rights and did not intend to condition access to the ballot on a person’s ability to pay.”

“Florida’s voters have consistently prioritized protecting the environment and any effort to restrict access to the ballot or voting is an affront to democracy,” said Deborah Foote, Government Affairs & Political Director at Sierra Club Florida. Sierra Club of Florida also called on Gov. DeSantis to veto SB 7068, a major toll road expansion that threatens Florida’s environment.

Florida Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence Co-Chair Andy Pelosi stated, “Despite overwhelming opposition from teachers, parents and students across the state, the majority of the Legislature chose to ignore the voices opposing teachers carrying guns in our schools and now the Governor sits as the final arbiter on how best to protect our educational spaces. At this point, we can only advocate for a veto of SB 7030 and call for a Special Session to properly address school safety.”

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