The practice called “bundling” that drew so much criticism during last November’s election would be banned under a proposal that was passed by the Florida Senate Wednesday morning.
“The bundling of several issues in one constitutional amendment is a terrible way to amend our constitution,” Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, recently told Senate Rules Committee members about Senate Joint Resolution 74.
“This bill ends bundling,” Bradley asserted.
There are three ways to amend the Florida Constitution. There is the citizen initiative process which allows citizens to place an amendment on the ballot by collecting enough voter signatures. The Legislature can place an amendment on the ballot. And then there is the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which is appointed every 20 years to review the constitution and propose changes.
The citizen initiative and legislative process limits proposed amendments to a single subject. But, the Florida Constitution allows the CRC to bundle amendments together. Five of the amendments placed on the ballot by the CRC involved more than one subject. For instance, one amendment banned offshore oil drilling while also banning “vaping” in public areas.
The resolution placing an amendment to ban bundling had unanimous support in the Senate, passing 40-0.
“Voters get robbed of the ability to weigh in on what should and should not be in our constitution because of bundling,” said Sen. Jose Javier Rodrigues, D-Miami.
“I don’t know if some of these amendments would have passed if they had not been bundled, no one ever gets to know that,” said Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa. “But what I do know what Sen. Bradley is trying to do is a step in the right direction.”
Not everyone believes bundling constitutional amendments is a bad idea. Attorney Tim Cerio was a member of the 2017-2018 CRC. He was the former general counsel to then-Governor Rick Scott.
“A lot of what we did at the CRC was to hopefully promote ballot brevity, at least to some extent, and prevent voter fatigue,” Cerio said on WLRN’s Sundial prior to the election. He said that’s why they bundled 22 proposals into eight proposed amendments – for the voter’s sake
If the House companion bill gets three-fifths support in the Florida House, the resolution would go on the 2020 general election ballot where it would require 60 percent voter approval to become law.
If its approved by voters, the bundling ban would apply to the next CRC which is due to be appointed in 2037.