30 March 2005

Politicians to the people: "You're stupid!"

The next time a politician shakes your hand, smiles at your family, or kisses your baby, don't be fooled. He or she doesn't respect you. In the eyes of a politician, the voters are stupid and can't be trusted with their own futures. Therefore, these so-called public servants are pushing forward three constitutional amendments that will make it nearly impossible for individuals and grassroots organizations to amend the state's governing document. And can you blame them? After passing initiatives that have done such horrible things like limiting class size, creating universal pre-kindergarten, and raising the minimum wage, it is evident that the voters of Florida must be saved from themselves. Today at 2:00 PM, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider two of the bills that will leave Florida voters completely impotent and forced out of the political process. But apparently, it is for our own good.

Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Senator Jim King (R-Jacksonville), would limit all future initiatives to issues that are already addressed in the state constitution. The majority of constitutional amendments that have been voted upon by the people of Florida have been placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature themselves. Of course, those amendments advanced by the Legislature would not be affected by SB 4. Only the amendments that originate with the people would face these unreasonable limits. How would this affect us? If this standard had been in place in 2002 and 2004, the class size, universal pre-K, and minimum wage amendments would not have been eligible for the ballot and the voters would not have been allowed to make a decision on these important issues. Again, we apparently need protection from ourselves.

The next proposed amendment limiting the voice of Florida's voters is Senate Bill 6, again sponsored by Senator King. This legislation would increase the percentage needed for passage of a constitutional amendment from a majority (fifty percent plus one) to a super-majority of sixty percent. Fortunately the politicians have decided to treat this amendment fairly by applying it to all types of constitutional amendments, even those proposed by the Florida Legislature. It would, however, have a negative affect on important issues in Florida. If this standard had previously been in place, the class size and universal pre-K amendments, along with the recent slot machines initiative, would have failed.

The Florida Legislature has 37 days remaining, and many of the politicians will use these five weeks to remove us pesky citizens completely from the political process. Considering that the reappointment process has rigged all of Congressional and state legislative seats so that the politicians are no longer voted into office by the people but rather selected by the party bosses, it is imperative that the legislature not be allowed to banish the citizens from the public square. If these senators and representatives are successful in their quest, this last light of democracy in Florida, the right of the people to have a say in their government, will be extinguished forever.


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