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Moody pushes for supreme court review of gambling initiative

Ashley Moody is wearing a maroon jacket she is seated at a table behind a microphone
Marta Lavandier/AP
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody speaks at a news conference, Monday, Feb. 7, 2022, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody wants the state Supreme Court to issue an opinion about the validity of a proposed constitutional amendment that would expand gambling, even though he measure has not qualified for the November ballot.

The issue centers on an effort by the political committee Florida Voters in Charge to pass an initiative to allow casinos in North Florida.

The committee faced a Feb.1 deadline to have nearly 900,000 signatures validated by state elections officials to reach the ballot but fell tens of thousands of signatures short. The committee, however, submitted enough signatures to trigger a Supreme Court review of whether the proposed ballot wording meets legal standards, such as having a single subject and not being confusing to voters.

The court on Feb. 8 asked for briefs about whether a review of the initiative is moot because not enough signatures were validated to qualify for the ballot. But in a brief Friday, Moody’s office said the court “does not lose jurisdiction simply because the petition will not appear on the ballot in the next election.”

Attorneys for Florida Voters in Charge also filed a brief this week arguing the court should move forward with the review. “This court’s mandatory jurisdiction in initiative-review cases is triggered by a signature threshold entirely independent of the signature threshold for ballot placement in a given year,” the committee’s brief said.

The committee, in a separate case filed in Leon County circuit court, is seeking to have more signatures counted, potentially allowing it to get on the November ballot. Another possibility would be to try to put the initiative on a future ballot.