Facing stinging rebuke, including an extremely critical New York Times editorial, House leadership has gutted much of the elections bill that caused so much controversy last week. The controversy began with a bill proposal that would have tightened ID requirements for voters; required paid petition circulators to register with the state; required voters who changed their address close to an election to cast provisional ballots; and made it a crime for anyone to interact with voters within 100 feet of a polling place. As if the provisions of the bill weren’t bad enough, Republicans, including our own local legislator Jennifer Carroll, sharply cut off any debate of the bill during consideration at a House Council meeting.
According to the St. Pete Times, the full House is expected to consider a much weaker proposal today. The new bill tightens the requirements for removing deceased voters from the voter rolls; requires petition-gatherers to turn in signed petitions within 45 days of collecting them; and restores legislator-controlled leadership funds, which were banned in the 1990s. The funds would allow the public to know which legislators are receiving contributions from which interests, but critics say the funds’ revival would increase the reliance on large, unrestricted campaign contributions from special interests. In addition, critics are concerned over the new version’s provisions that would shorten the lifespan of signatures on constitutional amendment petitions from four years to two years, and eliminate the 150-day limit for voters to revoke their signatures.
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