Amendment 4

C.M. GUERRERO / Miami Herald

The Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office -- the largest prosecutor’s office in the state of Florida -- is moving forward with a plan that would soften the financial blow of state law SB 7066 that ties the restoration of voting rights to someone’s ability to pay fines, fees and restitution for a felony offense.

Thousands of felons throughout the state are now eligible to vote, thanks to Amendment 4 and Governor Ron DeSantis signing the implementing bill into law. However, to do so they will have to register first, and organizations and advocates have been fanning out across Florida to sign up these newly eligible voters. Joining those efforts is former Leon County Commissioner Bob Rackleff.

A war of words has broken out over the Amendment 4 bill signed into law Friday by Gov. Ron DeSantis, which requires former felons to pay off all fines and fees included as part of their sentence before their right to vote is restored.

Democrats and other bill opponents have said the requirement is “poll tax” and have launched federal lawsuits against it, while Republicans and bill supporters say fines and restitution was always considered part of a sentence.

Courtesy of Julie Peyton

More than 100 new laws go into effect this week in Florida, including the right to restore voting rights to felons and the banning of sanctuary cities. Sundial spoke with WLRN reporters Nadege Green and Tim Padgett to review some of the critical laws being enacted in Florida.

 

 

broward elections
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

Leaders from civil and voters' rights groups in Florida testified before members of Congress Monday in Fort Lauderdale about the barriers that minority groups face when voting in the state. 

The Subcommittee on Elections of the U.S. House held the hearing inside the Broward County Commission chambers to evaluate whether claims of voter suppression need federal action. 

 

Controversial Felons' Rights Bill Goes To DeSantis

May 3, 2019

With two men who’ve become the faces of Amendment 4 watching from the gallery, Florida lawmakers passed a controversial measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored.

The Republican-dominated House passed the bill in a party-line vote Friday, the last full day of the 2019 legislative session. That came after the Senate approved the plan in a party-line vote Thursday night.

Controversial Felons' Rights Plan Clears Senate

May 3, 2019
LESLIE OVALLE / WLRN NEWS

Seeking to carry out a November constitutional amendment, the Florida Senate on Thursday passed a measure that would require repayment of financial obligations before felons’ voting rights could be restored, an issue that’s been a sticking point as lawmakers grappled with one of this year’s most controversial pieces of legislation.

The Senate spent about two hours in emotional debate on the measure before voting strictly along party lines and sending the proposal to the House for consideration Friday, the final day it can pass before the legislative session ends.

vote here sign
Caitie Switalski / WLRN

A bill that is advancing in the Florida Senate could provide relief for a large chunk of people with felony convictions who want to regain the right to vote following  the passage of Amendment 4 last November.

When amendments are made to the constitution sometimes they need legislation to be passed that would implement the change. Well this year lawmakers are doing that with 2018’s Amendment 4 which allows certain felons the right to vote after completing their sentence. There’s debate over whether implementing legislation is needed and WFSU’s Blaise Gainey reports both sides clashed during Thursday’s bill hearing.

Leslie Ovalle / WLRN News

Before the Florida Senate Committee for Criminal Justice began a discussion about how to implement Florida’s Amendment 4 this week, committee chairman Sen. Keith Perry showed fellow senators a video.

In the video, which was taken in May 2017, the prominent attorney and former Democratic Speaker of the Florida House Jon Mills is having a back and forth with Florida Supreme Court Justices about what it means for someone to have to “complete all terms of their sentence."

Debate About Voting Rights Now Centers On Fines, Fees

Mar 25, 2019
Daniel Rivero / WLRN

Felons in Florida would have to settle pending fines and fees before having their voting rights restored, according to a proposal currently making its way through the legislature. Critics say that flies directly in the face of Amendment 4, the constitutional amendment passed in November, and amounts to a modern day “poll tax.”

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

Former gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum laid out a vision of “registering and engaging” one million new voters across Florida over the next few years at an event in Miami Gardens on Wednesday.

Despite ongoing confusion about the roll out of a recent expansion of voting rights in Florida, county election offices across the state say people who rushed to register to vote when Amendment 4 went into effect in January have been issued voter information cards with no issues.

Meaning Of 'Murder' Key In Felons' Voting Rights

Jan 22, 2019

A key Senate panel on Tuesday began grappling with how to carry out a constitutional amendment that “automatically” restores the right to vote to felons who’ve completed their sentences.

At the outset of the meeting, Senate Criminal Justice Chairman Keith Perry vowed not to have “any kind of hindrance or roadblocks” in implementing Amendment 4, approved by nearly 65 percent of voters in November.

At the top of the to-do list for the committee: figure out the definition of “murder.”

Daniel Rivero / WLRN

Like many Floridians who have been convicted of a felony, Clarence Office, 61, was excited to register to vote on January 8, when the state’s Amendment 4 went into effect.

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