Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass the Voters in Charge Ballot Initiative in Florida. The ballot measure seeks to add a constitutional amendment that requires a final vote of the people prior to any gambling legislation being implemented. The ballot has received the appropriate signatures to have its language reviewed by the Florida Supreme Court and those opposed to the ballot initiative has submitted a brief to the Court. The Tallahassee Democrat reports:
It was just a slip of the pen, but a legal brief filed in the state Supreme Court last week contained an amusing admonition about casino gambling in Florida. “To recognize this change,” wrote attorneys for some dog tracks hoping to block a constitutional amendment from the 2018 ballot, “a voter must be in tune with the nuisances of Florida’s current gaming laws….” Surely, they meant “nuances.” The nuisances of Florida law are found, in pinstriped profusion, in the House and Senate, and in the lobby between them, 60 days a year.
The Supreme Court doesn’t rule on the pros or cons of a petition initiative. Once sponsors reach 10 percent of the required number of signatures, the attorney general requests a ruling on only two questions: Does the proposal deal with a single subject, and does its ballot summary adequately inform voters what it’s about? Lawyers then make a lot of money trying to convince at least four justices that the amendment should be blocked from the ballot, or should proceed.
It’s fairly clear that the amendment does deal with a single subject, but that the majority of the focus of oppositional lawyers. Once that issue is concluded however, the path to passage is still long, and will require a lot of community to support. The Tallahassee Democrat continues:
If the Supreme Court finds that the “Voters In Charge” amendment deals with a single subject, and that it’s ballot summary is sufficient, the proposal will still face long odds. First, it will need to get enough voter signatures to get on the 2018 ballot, where it will compete for attention with races for governor and the U.S. Senate — as well as, possibly, a referendum on solar energy, and who knows what else.
The gambling interests have tons of money to fight the amendment, which will require 60 percent public approval for passage. The last thing they want is to have to win a statewide referendum, every time they want to expand gambling, rather than just spreading campaign contributions among a relative handful of top legislators to get their way.
The first sentence of the pending ballot summary is a strong selling point. It says, “This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Sect. 3, of the Florida Constitution.” That is, the section providing for a statewide referendum. It’s very tempting. Who wouldn’t want to give the public control of gambling, considering the great job the Legislature has done with it up to now?
For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION