April 5, 2019

Florida Lawmakers Undermine Felon Voting-Rights Amendment 4 [Daytona Beach News-Journal]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Old habits die hard, especially in Florida. Our state has a history of disenfranchising people of color, especially black Floridians; of criminalizing the poor; and of curtailing civic engagement and re-integration of formerly-incarcerated individuals.

After lawmakers spent years mismanaging a civil rights restoration process plagued with red tape and backlogs, Floridians finally said enough is enough, and used their electoral power on Nov. 6 to pass Amendment 4. Even though voters overwhelmingly approved the amendment, which automatically restored the voting rights of people with felony convictions who completed their sentences, the state Legislature just couldn’t abandon its old habits and let that decision stand. Instead, the House has proposed a bill that would stop those with court fines and fees from having their voting rights restored until they finish paying all their dues.

While the legislation’s provisions — that a person should pay restitutions for their wrongdoing — may look innocuous on the surface, there is more at play than meets the eye. This is a bill that would disproportionately impact felons who are black and/or poor.

Read more on news-journal.com

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