State urges justices to allow dog racing measure
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Pointing in part to the “common sense” of voters, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office Wednesday filed a 44-page brief urging the Florida Supreme Court to allow a proposed ban on greyhound racing to go on the November ballot.
The brief urged justices to overturn a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, who said the proposed constitutional amendment included misleading language and should not go before voters.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case Aug. 29.
“This (Supreme) Court has long maintained that the amendment process is ‘the most sanctified area in which a court can exercise power,’ and a proposed amendment should be submitted to the electorate unless its ballot language is ‘clearly and conclusively’ defective,” Bondi’s office said in the brief. “Because the ballot language at issue in this case fully informs the electorate of the proposed amendment’s chief purpose and is not misleading, Florida’s voters have a right to consider its merits and cast their vote.”
The state Constitution Revision Commission this spring approved placing the measure on the ballot. It is aimed at ending greyhound racing at pari-mutuel facilities.
But the Florida Greyhound Association, which includes breeders, owners and trainers, filed a lawsuit arguing that the proposal, known as Amendment 13, should be kept off the ballot because it would be misleading to voters.
One part of Gievers’ decision agreed with an argument by the association that the ballot proposal would be misleading because it would not actually ban dog-race wagering. That is because betting would still be allowed at Florida tracks on races broadcast from outside the state.
But in the brief filed Wednesday, Bondi’s office urged the Supreme Court to reject that argument.
“In concluding that the ballot summary will mislead voters into believing that the proposed amendment will end wagering on out-of-state dog races, the trial court erred by failing to credit voters’ common sense and by inverting the language that will actually appear on the ballot,” the brief said. “Florida’s voters understand that when they vote on a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution, they are deciding what the law shall be in Florida, not in other states. Thus, they will understand that Amendment 13 will not end dog racing in other states.”
News Service of Florida