Twenty-six active petition drives seeking constitutional amendments to be placed on the 2020 ballot are posted on the Florida Division of Election’s (FED) website, but only four had met that first benchmark of 76,632 signatures to warrant a Supreme Court review.
Here's a glance at some of the petition drives that could potentially get on the November 2020 ballot even with new, stricter rules:
• Florida For A Fair Wage petition drive for a proposed amendment to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 had submitted 281,420 as of June 17.
Led by Orlando attorney John Morgan – who spearheaded the 2016 petition drive that resulted in the constitutional amendment that legalized medical marijuana – and his law firm, Florida For A Fair Wage, had collected 600,000 unverified signatures and “will be close to finished by the time the law takes effect,” Morgan tweeted last week.
According to the FED, Florida For A Fair Wage has raised $2.27 million since it was founded in January 2018 – including $812,963 in May alone – virtually all of it from Morgan or his law firm.
• Citizens for Energy Choices’ petition drive for a proposed “energy choice” amendment to grant customers of investor-owned utilities the right to choose their electricity provider and to generate and sell electricity has submitted 321,433 signatures and has passed the preliminary Supreme Court review.
Founded in September 2018, Alachua-based Citizens for Energy Choices reports it has raised $2.695 million including $420,000 in May, the third highest monthly amount since it was created.
Unlike Morgan’s confidence that Florida For A Fair Wage will be able to collect at least 766,000 petitions before the new law takes effect on July X, Citizens for Energy Choices in a May letter to DeSantis said the \new rules “”will delay citizen initiatives for months” and “cripple most current initiatives due to tight timelines for signature gathering,” including potentially its “energy choice” ballot measure.
• Florida Citizen Voters’ petition drive for a proposed amendment to change the wording in the state Constitution from “every citizen” has a right to vote to “only a citizen” can vote. The effort had submitted 85,695 valid petition signatures to the FED as of June 13 for the Supreme Court review.
Jacksonville-based Florida Citizen Voters reports it has received $2.307 million in contributions and $2.228 million in “in-kind services” – $1.4 million in May alone – since it was formed in November 2018.
• Florida Decides Healthcare’s petition drive for a proposed amendment to extend Medicaid coverage to individuals over age 18 and under age 65 whose incomes are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level submitted 82,145 signatures to secure the preliminary Supreme Court review in May.
Florida Decides Healthcare’s listed chairperson is Whitney Untiedt, an attorney who leads Miami-based Freidin Brown’s “Whistleblower” practice.
The initiative was approved for circulation in December. As of April 30, its campaign contributions and spending amount to $520,006 in in-kind services.
• Ban Assault Weapons Now [BAWN] petition drive for a proposed amendment to ban firearms defined as “assault weapons” had submitted 74,624 valid petition signatures to the FED as of June 17.
Miami-based BAWN has raised $909,401 in support of the prospective ballot measure since it was founded in January of this year.
During a press conference last week in Ft. Lauderdale, BAWN Chair Gail Schwartz, whose nephew was killed in the Valentine’s Day 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, said the group has collected 103,000 signatures and would soon qualify for the Supreme Court’s review.
Schwartz called the new rules “sad,” claiming they will “muzzle Florida citizens from conducting democracy and giving us a voice.”
But BAWN will persist, she vowed.
“It is going to make things harder and it is going to make things more expensive, but we are determined,” Schwartz said.
• All Voters Vote, Inc.’s petition drive for a proposed amendment to allow all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation has submitted 71,104 signatures to the FED by June 17.
If adopted, all registered voters could cast ballots in primaries not closed to members only. The two candidates getting the most votes in each primary would advance to the general election.
All Voters Vote, based in Tallahassee, reported to the FED that it had raised $5.341 million with nearly all of it coming since April ($2.255 million) and in May ($2.25 million), from Miami-Dade County healthcare executive Mike Fernandez.
• Sensible Florida Inc.’s petition drive for a proposed amendment to allow limited use and growing of marijuana by adults over 21 years has submitted 62,911 signatures to the FDE but more than 2,100 may be invalidated because they are more than two years old.
Founded in March 2016, Ft. Lauderdale-based Sensible Florida reports to the FDE that it has raised $141,630 in contributions with $2,189 in “in-kind” services.
Sensible Florida Chairman Michael C. Minardi, a Tampa attorney who is also Legal Director for NORML of Florida, said last week that the group is reigniting its campaign to collect petition signatures before the new rules come into effect but will likely need to conduct much of its effort under the new law – which will require more time, effort and money.
Morgan, who helped finance the 2016 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana and supports legalization for recreational use – which Sensible Florida’s proposal essentially does – says he’s tapped out supporting the minimum wage petition drive.
“I support the full legalization of #marijuana. However, my plate is full w/ a living wage for Florida's working poor. I can only slay one dragon at a time,” he tweeted last week.
• Floridians for Solar Choice’s petition drive for a proposed amendment to limit or restrict government and electric utilities from imposing barriers on supplying local solar electricity had 291,511 valid signatures in 2015, although only 80 were listed as valid as of June 17.
Since Floridians for Solar Choice was founded in December 2014, it has raised $1.7 million with nearly $800,000 contributed in “in-kind” services but little action for the last two years.
• Floridans For Freedom’s petition drive for a proposed amendment to guarantee the right of persons over 21 years of age to possess, use, and cultivate cannabis, reserving to the state the power to regulate its purchase and sale had submitted 24,868 signatures but with at least 9,861 more than two years old and potentially no longer valid.
Melbourne-based Floridians for Freedom was founded in August 2015 and has raised $22,105 in cash and $9,173 “in-kind” services with little recent activity.