Talking points on HB 7089 – Bill to narrow ex-felon voting rights

TALKING POINTS. The League understands and respects the need that the state has to clarify and define certain terms pertaining to Amendment 4, but would suggest that these definitions and clarifications be done by administrative order rather than legislation as there is more time for public comment and expert testimony. Based upon the proposed language we contend that the bill violates the Florida constitution and offends the jurisdiction of the courts and so we oppose the bill.

1. First, we contend that the redefinition of the words “completion of sentence” went well beyond the parameters of Am 4 and what was voted on by Floridians when they voted in Nov 6 for Am 4. The statement that people voted on was that a “sentence be complete” and the only person who can order a sentence is a judge. Therefore, the wide open expansion in the bill to add in orders about fines by the Dept of Corrections, and probation offices is unlawful and unconstitutional as the DOC and probation offices, some of which are run by for profit companies, cannot issue orders that automatically change the financial aspects of a sentence.
2. Second, we contend that if a judge converts a criminal order of restitution to a civil judgment then the criminal sentence pertaining to the restitution is gone. It is now only a civil matter. The language in the statute that seeks to curtail the judge’s power is an infringement on court authority and is also unconstitutional.
3. Third. Although we are in agreement with the definition of murder contained in the proposed bill, we are not in agreement with the myriad statutes that were added in to be felony sex offenses. Only those statutes with sexual conduct implicit in the offense should be felony sex offenses. This needs further detailed discussion later.
In closing, we oppose this bill for reasons stated.

signed by Cecile Scoon, LWV Florida