About a dozen years ago lawmakers decided it was too easy for the public to change the constitution, so in 2006 it asked voters to change the threshold for approval from 50 percent to 60 percent.

The ballot question passed with 57.8 percent of the voters saying yes. (Alert readers will note that the question did not get the 60 percent it takes to pass an amendment today.)

But never mind that. Now some lawmakers want to raise the standard even higher — to two thirds, or 66.7 percent of the vote.

Let’s take a look at some of the many amendments that passed in recent years, even with the 60 percent requirement, but would have lost if the two-thirds requirement had been in place:

Last year’s Amendment 4, which restores the rights of ex-felons to vote once they’ve paid their debt to society.

Amendments 2, 9 and 11 in 2012, which offered tax breaks to disabled veterans, spouses of service members killed while on duty, and low-income seniors.

Amendments 5 and 6 in 2010 — collectively known as “fair districts,” which were designed to stop state lawmakers from drawing legislative and congressional district maps for political purposes.

Amendment 3 in 2008, exempted from property taxes improvements designed to harden homes against storms and conserve energy.

Curiously, while the bills proposed in the House and Senate would force two-thirds of voters to approve amendments, it preserves the 60 percent level of votes needed in the Legislature to put amendments on the ballot.

To summarize, lawmakers want to make it harder for you to change the constitution, but not for them to put amendments on the ballot.

An editorial from the Orlando Sentinel.


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