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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Four Petition Proposals Halfway to Qualifying for 2020 Ballot, Including $15 Minimum Wage

$15 minimum wage graphic with copy: John Morgan's folrida for a fair wage proposal headed toward 2020 ballot

TALLAHASSEE –  Sponsors of four proposed constitutional amendments have each submitted more than 350,000 signatures for verification and are about half-way to qualifying for the November 2020 ballot.

Prospective ballot measures must collect 766,200 verified registered voter signatures by Feb. 1, 2020, in order to be presented to voters.

Proposed constitutional amendments seeking to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, adopt an “open” primary, deregulate the utility industry, and stipulate in the constitution that “only a citizen” can vote all reported topping the milestone in updates posted Wednesday by the Florida Division of Elections (FDE).

There are 26 “active” sanctioned petition drives listed on the FDE website. Of those 26, at least 16 have not turned in any signatures to be verified.

Of the remaining 10 constitutional amendment campaigns, only four have submitted more than 300,000 signatures. They are:

Florida For A Fair Wage’s proposed amendment to gradually increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026 is the petition campaign charting the most momentum.

According to the FDE, as of July 24, Florida For A Fair Wage had gathered 378,861 signatures, nearly 140,000 more than the 239,000 it had on June 1.

Championed by Orlando attorney John Morgan – who also spearheaded the ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in 2016 – Florida For A Fair Wage has received more than $3 million in contributions.

Nearly all of that money – including $812,963.45 in May and $812,340 in June – came from Morgan’s law firm

Morgan this week also announced Florida For A Fair Wage’s launch of a website advocating for the amendment.

“There is no doubt in my mind that is an uphill battle,” Morgan said in an email to supporters that he linked to in a tweet.

“Just like there were hundreds of thousands of families w/sick children or parents that needed #MedicalMarijuana, there are hundreds of thousands of Floridians earning the minimum wage that cannot afford to live in FL,” Morgan tweeted.

Florida For A Fair Wage consultant Ben Pollara tweeted the campaign has actually gathered more than one million signatures but will not submit them to the FDE until they are verified.

All Voters Vote, Inc.’s petition drive for a proposed amendment to allow all registered voters to cast ballots in primaries for state legislature, governor and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation had submitted 367,985 signatures to the FED as of Wednesday.

If adopted, all registered voters could cast ballots in primaries not closed to party members only. The two candidates getting the most votes in each primary would advance to the general election.

All Voters Vote, based in Tallahassee, reported to the FED that it had raised more than $6 million, with more than $4.5 million coming since April from Miami-Dade County healthcare executive Mike Fernandez.

Citizens for Energy Choices had submitted 351,776 signatures to the FDE by Wednesday in its petition drive to get a proposed “energy choice” constitutional amendment on the 2020 ballot.

The proposed amendment would grant customers of investor-owned utilities the right to choose their electricity provider and to generate and sell electricity.

Alachua-based Citizens for Energy Choices, chaired by James Patton, reports more than $3 million in campaign donations, including more than $2 million over five months since February, primarily from Alachua-based Coalition For Energy Choice, chaired by James Patton.

Florida Citizen Voters had submitted 355,919 signatures to the FDE by Wednesday in its petition drive to change the wording in the state constitution from “every citizen” who is qualified and registered can vote to “only a citizen” who is qualified and registered can vote.

In June, Ponte Vedra Beach-based Florida Citizen Voters claimed to have collected as many as 1.3 million unverified petitions.

It reported $2.458 million in donations, most of it from Ponte Vedra Beach-based Citizen Voters, Inc. Florida. Citizen Voters Chairman John Loudon is also a director of Citizen Voters, Inc.

Among notable petition drives that appear to be falling short in meeting thresholds in securing 766,200 verified voter signatures by Feb. 1, 2020, is Florida Decides Healthcare’s proposed amendment to extend Medicaid coverage to individuals over age 18 and under age 65 whose incomes are at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

Ban Assault Weapons Now petition drive for a proposed amendment to ban firearms defined as “assault weapons” and Sensible Florida’s campaign to allow limited use and growing of marijuana by adults over 21 years also post less than 100,000 signatures, according to the FDLE.

This piece appeared in the The Center Square and was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

Layout and graphic added by the Observer; composite image by the Observer. $15dollar minimum wage graphic: Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters

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