Florida Amendment 4: Require Constitutional Amendments to Be Passed Twice Initiative
Florida’s Amendment 4 would require constitutional amendments or revisions to be approved by 60 percent of Florida voters in two successive elections in order for them to become effective.
There is no significant fiscal impact estimated.
Proponents’ Argument For
Supporters suggest that Amendment 4 will keep frivolous amendments out of the state constitution. Florida’s current constitution has been amended 140 times since it was adopted in 1968. Supporters argue that this reflects “legislating” through the constitution and that requiring an initiative to pass in two successive elections rather than a single election would help prevent nonessential changes to the state constitution.
Opponents’ Argument Against
Opponents argue that Florida’s Amendment 4 would make it more difficult for voters to exercise self-governance through direct democracy. They say that requiring a voter initiative amendment to pass in two successive elections would improperly give more power to the legislature, executive and special interests at the detriment of citizens.
Florida is one of 24 states that have a process for citizen initiatives. Eighteen of those states, including Florida, allow constitutional initiatives. Florida does not allow statute initiatives, so citizen initiatives may only take the form of constitutional amendments.
In 2006, the Florida Constitution was amended to increase the threshold required for passing citizen initiatives from a simple majority to a 60 percent supermajority. Colorado is the only other state that requires a supermajority for citizen initiatives. Only one state, Nevada, requires voters to approve initiatives in two successive elections.
Initiatives provide an important channel for citizens, giving them the opportunity to engage in direct democracy. While initiatives may sometimes be frivolous, others have delivered meaningful reforms for Florida, such as legalizing medical marijuana and restoring voting rights to felons.
An alternative to “keeping our constitution clean” would be to allow statute initiatives. This would provide citizens with a channel for self-governance without placing minor policy changes in the state constitution. Twenty-one other states in the nation allow for such initiatives.