Amendment 4

Poll workers in training at the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office, 2016.
Tori Whitley / WFSU News

Floridians approved a constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to most felons in November.  In May, Florida lawmakers passed a law requiring them to repay all financial penalties incurred at sentencing before they can register.

youtube.com

Under the bill passed last month by the Florida Legislature, felons must prove they’ve paid all fees and fines connected with their crime before they can regain the right to vote. But Leon County Clerk of Court Gwen Marshall says the big problem is no way now exists to prove all payments have been made.

zimmytws / Adobe Stock

Since January 8, felons have been registering to vote as long as they’ve completed their sentence, and did not commit a felony sexual offense or murder. But all session long the legislature has been trying to determine exactly who that excludes. The current bill includes attempted murder, and also makes a felon have to pay off any outstanding civil liens or obligations to the court as a result of their case.

Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

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.

Leon Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley
Leon Votes

Election supervisors say they can start registering felons to vote next month without legislative action. But one supervisor says there's one change that could make implementing Amendment 4 a bit easier.


Voter Ballot
MGN Online

  

Select felons who’ve completed their sentence will be eligible to vote come January 8th, following the passage of amendment 4. As Blaise Gainey reports Elections officials met this week to discuss how to add the roughly 1.5 million extra voters to the list.

Ryan Dailey / WFSU-FM

Faith leaders and politicians gathered at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Monday to voice support both for Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum in the race for governor, and Amendment 4. The Rev. R.B. Holmes prayed for both men vying for the governor’s mansion.

Voters cast their ballots (undated)
Sascha Cordner / WFSU-FM

Florida is one of only a few states that doesn’t automatically restore voting rights to felons who’ve completed their sentences. The fight goes back years and it's been waged both in court and in the court of public opinion. Now, voters themselves have the chance to weigh in with Amendment 4. It  would automatically restore rights to most felons. But there are exceptions that’s created a divide inside the main group pushing hardest for the change.

MGN Online

As Gov. Rick Scott’s Cabinet meets for its last clemency board meeting before the state’s general election, the conversation surrounding felon voting rights is ramping up. One amendment on the ballot could put a new restoration system in place.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott
The Florida Channel

Judge Mark Walker’s decision on Florida’s felon voting rights process has breathed new life into the restoration debate. By declaring the process unconstitutional and giving Governor Rick Scott a deadline to create a new system, Walker has opened the door to many scenarios.

Lance Cheung

Advocates are hopeful they’ll see legislation implementing tax breaks on solar energy pass the legislature this session. But they’re not happy with different parts of the House and Senate bills.

Voters didn’t hesitate to expand tax breaks for renewable energy, but some smaller counties are raising concerns as the Legislature decides how to implement Amendment 4.

Republican Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg won big in August when voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4, his solar tax cut ballot measure.

The nation’s largest solar panel installer is setting up shop in Orlando, but activists say Florida has a way to go before earning the nickname “Sunshine State.” 

Lane Cheung via flickr

Tuesday Floridians voted overwhelmingly to lower taxes on solar equipment. But activists are bracing for another campaign – this one against a utility-backed amendment on the November ballot.

A grass-roots only political strategy appears to be working as supporters await the fate of Amendment 4, the Florida Legislature’s tax-cutting plan for promoting solar energy.

Republican Senator Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg is a prime author of Amendment 4, the Legislature’s renewable energy tax cut proposal on the August 30 primary ballot. 

Absentee ballots are already in the mail, but a Central Florida Tea-Party activist is just launching his campaign to short-circuit Amendment 4, the Legislature’s renewable energy tax cut on the August 30 ballot.