Galvano says lawmakers won't ‘slow walk' amendments

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano is promising that lawmakers won’t do anything to block the nearly dozen constitutional amendments that voters passed this month.

The Legislature has come under fire in the past for allegations that it ignored amendments or approved laws limiting their scope. But Galvano said during a media availability Friday that the “people have spoken,” and “I want to make sure we are being true to the intent of the voters.”

He added that legislators are not going to “slow walk” implementation of the amendments.

Voters on Nov. 6 passed 11 measures dealing with topics ranging from taxes to vaping indoors and casino gambling.

The gambling measure, known as Amendment 3, requires voter approval for proposals that would expand casino gambling in the state. Galvano said he would like Florida to follow other states and permit betting on sports events such as football games.

But he said the Senate is still looking at whether the newly passed amendment would require lawmakers to put a sports-betting referendum on the ballot.

Voters approved 11 of the 12 amendments that appeared before them on the ballot. Only Amendment 1 --- which would have increased the homestead property-tax exemption --- failed to get the required 60 percent approval from voters to pass.

Voters also gave the nod to Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to most felons who have served their sentences. The amendment is estimated to impact 1.4 million people. Galvano said he didn’t support the amendment, but he said it comes to the Legislature with “greater weight” because it was passed by voters.

“We have to do it right, we’re not going to slow walk it, but we have to make sure it’s done right and implemented correctly,” said Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who will formally become Senate president during an organization session Tuesday.

While it received relatively little campaign attention, a measure that called for new lobbying restrictions was the most popular of the amendments. The lobbying proposal, known as Amendment 12, received support from 78.9 percent of voters, far exceeding the 60 percent threshold needed to pass constitutional amendments. The measure, in part, will ban state and local elected officials from lobbying for six years after they leave office.

The constitutional amendments were put on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, the Legislature and through petition drives.

Others that passed included Amendment 5, which will make it harder for the Legislature to authorize or raise taxes; Amendment 9, which bars offshore oil drilling and vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes in indoor workplaces; and Amendment 13, which will ban greyhound racing at pari-mutuel facilities.

Lawmakers have clashed with backers of some constitutional amendments in the past. As an example, the Legislature has been embroiled in a series of lawsuits about whether it has properly carried out a 2016 constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana.