The controversial measure could be among the first blockbuster bills either signed or vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. Critics have decried H.B. 1355 as a voter suppression measure, and warned it would stifle efforts to register new voters.
Gov. Rick Scott has until Saturday to act on House Bill 1355, the controversial elections bill that passed the Florida Legislature along party lines over objections that it would make voting more difficult.
According to the House’s latest update on bill actions, lawmakers sent the bill to Scott on May 6, the last day of the session. The governor has 15 days from that date (in other words, until May 21) to either sign the measure, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.
The bill shortens the number of days of early voting, makes it more difficult for people who move to change their registration at the polls, and reduces the “shelf life” for signatures collected during citizen ballot initiatives from four years to two. It also creates a commission to study when the state should set the date of its presidential primary.
The League of Women Voters of Florida has announced that if the bill passes, it will have to end voter registration efforts, because of provisions in the bill that expose voter registration groups to fines if they don’t turn informs within 48 hours.
In an interview with Senate President Mike Haridopolos, Jeff Lytle of the Naples Daily News says the bill would have the League “crying uncle” if it becomes law.
“The League of Women Voters is a left-of-center organization,” Haridopolos responds. “I’m sure they weren’t happy with it.”
Haridopolos then pivots and says the measure is aimed at combatting fraud. Earlier attempts by the bill’s backers to offer examples of fraud have been debunked, but Haridopolos says that if the measure doesn’t become law, groups could mislead voters by pretending to sign them up and then failing to submit the registration forms.
According to recent reports, Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, has again aligned himself with a controversial group. As reported yesterday by blogger Spencer Ackerman, West will sponsor a July 25 briefing by Citizens for National Security, a self-described group of concerned citizens interested in education on extremism, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Florida led 25 other states on Tuesday in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the health care reform law’s mandatory state expansion of Medicaid, which they argue is coercive. However, a Florida advocacy group says state officials are waging a politically motivated war against the health care reform law at the expense of Floridians.