By Jim Rosica – Florida Politics – 4/20/17
The state’s highest court on Thursday gave its approval for proposed state constitutional amendments on voter approval of new gambling and restoring voting rights to ex-cons.
But there’s a big ‘if’ before either can be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot—both amendments still need hundreds of thousands of signatures.
Moreover, Justices Ricky Polston and R. Fred Lewis dissented on the gambling amendment, saying “the ballot title and summary do not clearly inform the public that the proposed amendment may substantially affect slot machines approved by county-wide (referendums).”
The Florida Supreme Court does not pass judgment on subject matter, but reviews proposed amendments only to make sure they cover only one subject and that their ballot title and summary aren’t misleading.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has approved the language of this amendment,” said John Sowinski, chair of Voters In Charge, the group behind the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment.
“(W)e can move forward with our efforts to ensure that Florida voters – not gambling industry influence and deal making – are the ultimate authority when it comes to deciding whether or not to expand gambling in our state,” he added in a statement.
Voters in Charge wants to “ensure that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling,” the ballot summary says.
The court, however, has not yet ruled in a case on Gretna Racing, the Gadsden County track seeking to add slot machines. Pari-mutuel interests have said Gretna and other facilities in counties where voters approved slots should be allowed to offer them.
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