Florida Democrats Kick Some Jeb Butt

One of the main thrusts of this year’s legislative session in Florida was to be limiting the supposedly runaway propensity of residents to amend their state constitution.

Even though Florida has the kind of constitution that is intended to be amended (unlike the federal one), and no one had any complaints until some initiatives that Jeb was against passed, the “problem” has been painted to be so egregious as to demand immediate action.

Floridians still remember Jeb pledging to work up a “devious” plan to keep the class size amendment from ever being enacted. Today’s Miami Herald shows he is still determined to overturn the voters’ decision.

Voters in 2002 approved the class-size amendment, which mandates that class sizes be reduced between now and 2010. Although the amendment so far hasn’t been as costly as first predicted, Bush and Republican legislative leaders want voters to change it…

Powerful South Florida, where most state education dollars go now, isn’t too thrilled. Under Jeb’s new plan, they might be worse off than they are now.

Bush insisted that his push in recent days to stress the extra money for South Florida school districts does not mean his class-size proposal is in trouble.

It would take a three-fourths vote of both the House and Senate to put the governor’s class-size amendment before voters in a special election and a three-fifths vote to place the amendment on the ballot in the 2006 election. Democrats are unified in opposition so far to Bush’s plan, meaning a special election is unlikely.

Rep. Dan Gelber, a Miami Beach Democrat, also expressed skepticism about Bush’s funding proposal, saying he does not want to alter a constitutional amendment based on a promise for more money.

“None of this is covered by a constitutional amendment,” said Gelber. “It’s an unenforceable promise. This isn’t a game show where you say let’s take the mystery prize behind Door No. 1.”

Florida House Democrats put out a great statement on the issue today and plan a news conference in the morning to really shred Jeb.

The Legislature—Not the People—is Responsible for “Cluttering” the Constitution

…the ongoing debate has failed to stress one important fact—it is not the voters who are behind most constitutional amendments; it is in fact, the Legislature.

…the voters account for less than 20 percent of all constitutional amendments that have made it to the ballot since 1968. Clearly, if there is a problem, it is with the legislature, not the voters…

Despite the fact that the first line of the Constitution says that all power is vested in the people, the Republican majority apparently believes they are in a better position to decide what should be in the people’s constitution…

The citizen initiative process exists to provide voters an opportunity to have their voices heard after becoming weary from attempting to get the legislature to pay attention to their concerns. Without Florida’s initiative process, many important constitutional amendments would never have been adopted, including Florida’s smoking ban, pre-kindergarten initiative, homestead exemption, limitations on property taxes, and class size reduction. In each of these cases, citizens took their case directly to the people after the legislature ignored their pleas…


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