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SPLC Action Fund: Florida Legislature passes unnecessary bill that would preserve vestige of shameful Jim Crow-era voting restrictions

The Florida Legislature on Friday passed Senate Bill 7066, a piece of legislation that is not only unnecessary but that actually contradicts the will of voters who last year approved Amendment 4, a measure that restored voting rights to people with past felony convictions who have served their sentences.

Although the legislation originally passed the Florida House as an election administration bill on Thursday, the Florida Senate amended it on Friday as the so-called “Amendment 4 implementation bill.”

The bill will now go to Gov. Ron DeSantis to be signed into law.

While this bill has been through revisions and changes, it continues to be a solution in search of a problem. Amendment 4 needs no implementation bill.

This constitutional amendment, approved by over 64 percent of the voters, is self-implementing and clear. And even if there were some ambiguity in Amendment 4 – which there is not – it should be up to the courts to resolve those issues, not the Legislature.

This bill isn’t just unnecessary, it contradicts what the voters wanted. Under this proposed legislation, people who have outstanding fines, court fees and restitution, even where they have been converted from a criminal sentence to a civil lien, will be prevented from voting.

The people of Florida overwhelmingly voted to cast off this racist provision in their constitution, yet the majority in the Florida Legislature, either unwilling or unable to try and win over these new voters at the ballot box, instead decided to leave intact vestiges of the Jim Crow era and keep people who have served their time from participating in the fundamental right to vote.

The issue went before the people because the Florida Legislature refused to enfranchise voters.

After refusing to act and even in the face of a clear mandate from the people of Florida themselves to give their fellow citizens back the right to vote, the Legislature is now attempting to disenfranchise voters again. Shame on them.

It is our hope that Gov. Ron DeSantis will stand with the people of Florida and veto this bad legislation.

Photo by Ariel Skelley/Getty Images