Florida House Committee Approves Two Election-Related Bills

by Andrew Powell


The Florida House Ethics, Elections and Open Government Subcommittee approved two election-related bills and another bill that would allow the recall of county officials by voters at their meeting on Wednesday.

House Joint Resolution 31 was presented by state Rep. Spencer Roach, R-North Fort Myers, who said the resolution would allow voters to change the Florida Constitution to require members of a district school board to be subject to a partisan election.

Roach said up until 2000, district school boards had members added through partisan elections and it was the practice for 155 years in the Sunshine State.

When asked by state Rep. Ashley Gantt, D-Miami, why the question of partisan elections for district school boards was added to the ballot in 1998, Roach said it was his opinion that the Democratic Party in Florida did it so they were able to hold onto pockets of power under Republican leadership.

“They wanted these to be nonpartisan, so Republicans would not get elected.” Roach (pictured above) said.

Roach said that some of the criticism he has received about the resolution is that it would further polarize the electorate and inject more politics into school boards.

However, Roach added that the bill will allow voters to identify who the nonpartisan candidates are, if they do not wish to vote for one of the two major parties.

Proponents of the bill argued that partisan elections will disenfranchise parents who are politically affiliated with the opposite party.

State Rep. Mike Caruso, R-West Palm Beach, supported the bill and said that his constituents often contact him wanting to know about candidates for district school boards.

“It’s just so hard to find out anything about them,” Caruso said, adding that voters should have all the information about those they are voting for.

HJR 31 was reported favorably.

House Bill 411 was sponsored by state Rep. Kevin Steele, R-Hudson, and changes election criteria for people running for district school boards, and requires that they only have to reside in the district once they are sworn into their role, not while they are actually campaigning.

Proponents argued that this would encourage ‘transplants’ from other areas that are not part of the community, to campaign in these districts.

HB 411 was reported favorably.

HJR 131 would provide for the recall of county officials and was presented by state Rep. Joel Rudman, R-Navarre, who proposed a resolution to allow citizens to call out corrupt officials, something that is unable to be done under current law in non-charter counties.

“To me this resolution is all about equality, fairness, and accountability,” Rudman said, adding that it is a First Amendment right of citizens to have a redress of their grievances.

HJR 131 was reported favorably.

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Andrew Powell is a contributor to The Center Square.




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