Incoming Senate Leaders Talk Outcome Of Fla. Amendments, Effect On Legislature

Nov 5, 2014

Incoming Sen. President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) and incoming Sen. Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) speaking to the Florida Channel on Election Night.
Credit Florida Channel

Two of three proposed constitutional amendments failed on Florida’s November ballot. Now, the incoming Senate leaders are weighing in on all three and their effect on the Legislature.

All three amendments needed 60 percent of the vote to pass, and Amendment 1—which earmarks about $9 billion for conservation efforts—took about 75 percent of the vote.

While supporters hail it as a win for environmental conservation, opponents say they don’t know how it could affect Florida’s budget in the long term.

And, when lawmakers convene for the next Legislative session, incoming Senate President Andy Gardiner says they’ll have to look into that.

“Well, you know, the amendments will drive everything because they’re constitutional amendments. Amendment 1 will cost a lot of money. There’s going to be some pain there,” said Gardiner, speaking to the Florida Channel on Election Night.

The Orlando Republican also spoke about Amendment 2, which would have legalized medical marijuana in the state. While it didn’t get enough votes to pass, Gardiner says the about 58 percent who said yes to the proposal are still sending lawmakers a strong message.

“I think what people are saying is it’s time for us to work together and come up with some good solutions because at the end of the day, everyone needs to understand is we come to Tallahassee with our principles and we have to work through the issues. The Florida Senate will be ready absolutely,” he added.

Incoming Senate Democratic leader Arthenia Joyner too agrees.

“They told lawmakers that we want you to look at the legalization of medical marijuana, take a serious look and pass a law that came mighty close to passing, and they’ll do it next time,” said the Tampa Senator. “But, we can fix that.”

And, she adds voters also wanted the Legislature to listen about Amendment three, which failed.  

“They also told us that we don’t want outgoing Governors selecting incoming judges…unequivocally,” she added, speaking to the Florida Channel Tuesday.

That amendment would have allowed an outgoing governor to appoint future state Supreme Court Justices and appeals court judges. Opponents say the amendment would have given the governor too much power.

Meanwhile, after the Election Night, the Senate will look relatively the same with 26 Republicans and 14 Democrats, meaning the GOP-controlled Senate will maintain its majority.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.