Florida Supreme Court to Review Constitutionality of Solar Initiative
A proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution will be sent to the Florida Supreme Court for review. The proposed amendment is known as the “Floridians for Solar Choice” amendment and would allow Florida electricity consumers to buy electricity from somewhere other than a utility. The proponents of the proposed amendment are confident that the issue will pass the supreme court’s review.
The amendment is needed because the law forbids customers from buying their electricity from any business or entity but a utility. Operating as a monopoly on the system because of the law, other providers of electricity are not allowed into the marketplace. If the amendment is passed it is not clear whether newcomers would help to pay to keep the electric grid up-to-date and make their electricity available statewide.
Amending the Florida Constitution
This story brings up an interesting issue in the Florida legal landscape. What is the process for amending the state’s constitution? Who are the primary players, and what elements must be met? Below we will answer some of these questions and provide an overview of one way (the same as this solar initiative) the Florida Constitution can be amended.
Florida’s Constitution itself provides the guidelines on how to amend it. Section 3 of Article XI provides that the power of amending the constitution belongs to the people. The people can amend the constitution through an initiative if they can obtain the following things:
It must be an amendment that embraces only one subject.
The people must amass a petition with a number equal to 8% of amount of votes cast in half the congressional districts from half the districts of the state for the previous presidential election.
The people must file the language of the amendment and proof of petition votes with the custodian of state records.
This is the first step that must be taken to amend the constitution through an initiative. After this is done, the issue moves onto the attorney general and supreme court for the state.
Next, the state constitution directs the attorney general to send the language of the amendment to the supreme court who will review the language of the amendment for constitutionality. And the two primary things the supreme court will review are:
Whether the proposed language in the amendment satisfies the single-subject requirement of the constitution - meaning the amendment does not touch more than one subject.
Whether the title of the amendment satisfies the requirements of Florida Statutes 101.161(1).
Once an amendment is passed, it will be put on the next ballot for the people to decide. If the amendment gets 60% of the vote in the next election, it will become a part of the Florida Constitution.
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