An Attack on our Democracy

Here's what you need to know this week:

The attacks continue from Tallahassee at every angle. HB 1, the union busting bill you’ve been hearing so much about, is waiting to be heard on the floor. However, there are other pieces of seriously dangerous legislation being considered! Two of these are a direct attack on the citizen’s initiative process (the process of collecting signatures to get amendments on the ballot that has given us things such as minimum wage increases and voting rights restoration):   

-       SB 7062: This bill changes the citizen’s initiative process so that signatures collected must come from ALL of Florida’s congressional districts. Currently, the rule is that signatures must come from at least half of them. Requiring signatures from all districts would make organizing petition drives much more difficult, especially when paired with the second bill.

-       SB 1794: This bill contains several provisions to weaken and ultimately destroy the citizen’s initiative process. It would increase the cost of verifying petitions from the current 10 cents to around 1 dollar per petition, drastically increasing the financial burden on petition efforts and ensuring only well-funded, and often times corporate-backed, efforts make it on the ballot. The bill would also increase the threshold for supreme court review of proposed amendments from 10% to 50% of required signatures. Currently, the Supreme Court reviews the constitutionality of a proposed amendment once 10% of the required signatures are gathered. Many key supporters wait until this review is completed to offer financial and physical assistance, so as not to waste resources on unconstitutional efforts. By increasing the threshold from 10 to 50 percent, much of the support for proposed amendments will not be there during the entire first half of the signature gathering cycle, meaning the entire process will take exponentially longer. This combines with the third portion of the bill, which dramatically shortens the amount of time that each signature is valid, to almost ensure that most grassroots initiatives will never be seen on the ballot.

The citizen’s initiative process is one of the only ways that the voice of the people can be heard with the current state of politics in Florida, but the special interests and state legislators beholden to them are trying to change that. We’re urging everyone to reach out to your state senators and tell them to vote NO on these attacks on our democracy. You can find the contact info for your state senator by clicking here.

Here's what's coming up:

- TOMORROW (2/21), we’ll be cohosting a legislative action night with our Florida Future Labor Leaders (FFLL) group to make sure everyone has the chance to let their voices be heard. Join us and our young workers at Hillsborough School Employees Federation (5126 N Florida Ave, Tampa; parking behind the building via the alley to the right) at 6PM on Friday where we'll be writing letters, filling out postcards, and making phone calls to our elected officials. This is a great opportunity for an introduction to the activism involving the state legislature, especially if you don't have the time to travel all the way to Tallahassee. If you've never reached out to your elected officials before, we'll teach you! Food and drinks will be provided. RSVP HERE

Keep in Mind:

We are still looking for legislative activists for Working Families Lobby Corps (WFLC). This is the BEST way for union members to hold our elected officials accountable, because it puts us directly in the halls of power. Participants sign up for week-long increments in which they will travel to Tallahassee, receive training, and go on to the capitol where they let the voice of Florida's working families be heard. We still need several activists to meet our goals for the last two weeks (March 2-6 and 9-13), and YOU could be the one that gets us there! You can find the sign-up by clicking HERE (individuals interested in participation should first work with their local union).

That's all for this week! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more updates. If you would like to receive text message alerts from the Florida AFL-CIO (Msg & data rates may apply), text FLUNION to 235246!

In Solidarity,

West Central Florida Labor Council

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