TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — When the Florida Legislature declined to raise the state’s minimum wage, Orlando attorney John Morgan helped bankroll a constitutional amendment to raise the wage.
When the Florida legislature declined to legalize medical marijuana, Morgan helped bankroll a constitutional amendment twice to make medical marijuana legal in the state.
Now, lawmakers have proposed a bill to get people like Morgan and their money out of the way, a move Morgan says would set the state up for a losing lawsuit.
“If this ever passes, they’re going to have John Morgan coming at them with all guns blazing because this is absolutely unconstitutional,” says Morgan. “The case is Citizens United, we all hear about citizens, and the thing is money is speech, money is free speech.”
On Tuesday, the Senate Rules Committee advanced a bill (CS/SB 1890) which would cap at $3,000 how much any one person can give to a committee as it tries to get its amendment on the ballot.
“It is my belief that those that seek to change the document should be initiated from the people and not from outside special interests,” says Senator Ray Rodrigues (R – Lee), the bill’s sponsor.
Lawmakers say they are trying to eliminate outside groups and others from interfering in Florida by amending the state constitution, although the bill does not make an exception for Florida residents.
“What we talking about here is the very people who live in the state and the very process that is foundational,” says Senator Jeff Brandes (R – Pinellas). “I rise in opposition not because I don’t think most of this bill is good, but this provision itself stands unconstitutionally in my opinion.”
Brandes pointed to staff analyses of the bill which noted that, “the Court has concluded that the circulation of such petitions represents core political speech and merits the highest level of protection,” adding that, “courts also have generally held that regulations seeking to forbid or limit communication of specific ideas and viewpoints are in violation of the First Amendment.”