Should We Allow Voters To Veto Legislation?


A Republican Senator and a Democratic legislator are jointly sponsoring a constitutional amendment which would allow voters to veto bills passed by the Legislature.

That a Republican and Democrat are working together in highly-partisan Tallahassee is news enough.  But this proposal would be an immense change in the way Tallahassee works.

The Republican is state Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, who is somewhat of a GOP maverick.  The Democrat is Richard Steinberg of Miami Beach.

The threshold for a veto isn’t easy:  Sponsors of a veto would have just 90 days to gather the signatures of a large number of voters — at least 7.5 percent who voted in the last governor’s election.  Then a referendum is scheduled and the veto must be approved.

According to a state Senate news release:

Senate Joint Resolution 1490 and House Joint Resolution 1231 are modeled after other states’ citizens’ veto bills that allow the citizens of those states to veto certain types of legislation.   The citizens’ veto could not be applied to expenses of the state or emergency laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety.

“Like many states, Florida should afford its citizens the opportunity to reject legislation that they deem detrimental to the State,” Representative Steinberg is quoted.  “In a democracy, it is the citizens who should have the final word on whether to accept or reject a law.”

“Constituents reach out to me on a daily basis expressing frustration with the maze that is the legislative process,” said Senator Dockery. “In this political climate, the bulk of the power is held by wealthy special interests. This joint resolution would place that power where it rightly belongs: into the hands of the citizens.”

15 Responses to “Should We Allow Voters To Veto Legislation?”

  1. Floridan says:

    Even though I think almost all of the legislation coming out of Tallahassee is detrimental the best interests of the people, this is not the way to correct it.

    Perhaps if people took a little more care in deciding who to vote for, and not treat politics like a spectator sport, representative government could actually work.

    BTW, wasn’t term-limiting state legislators supposed to solve a lot of these problems?

  2. Stan says:

    About time!

  3. Real Deal says:

    That this idea even comes up points to the problem Floridan identifies. Our representative democracy doesn’t work well so we try to fix it with anarchy when the problem is that voters of both parties are to blame because we fail to hold our officials accountable us and because we do not elect the best ones in the first place.

    As a practical matter, Legislators don’t even really get to cast an honest vote. They caucus together and are told by their party leaders how to vote. When any of them break from the expections of their party, they risk being punished when their constituents need something. In effect their vote is coerced by party discipline. They then they dare to talk about ethics in government. It is the height of hubris.

  4. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Yeah, “the citizens” are really going to be able to collect the signatures of 7.5% of Florida’s voting population in 90 days… NOT!!!

    This is ONLY a way for rich and powerful special interests to kill laws they don’t like, by paying millions of $$$ to hire thousands of signature-gatherers all over the state. It is a powerful new way for rich and powerful special interests to stick it to “the citizens”.

    FROM BUDDY: Very good point.

  5. WishfulThinking says:

    Ha Ha Ha (above) is right.

  6. Kevin says:

    Terrible idea for two reasons:

    1. It goes against the ideas of republicanism and could lead to tyranny of the majority.

    2. Far more likely, though (and almost the opposite of point 1), is that only some entity with an enormous bankroll could possibly do this.


  7. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    The pathway to a better American democracy involves:

    1. Getting as many as possible to vote in every election.

    2. Making sure that electoral districts represent compact communities of common interest at every level of government.

    3. Public financing of campaigns.

    Do those three things and the performance of government improves drastically whether at the federal, state or local levels. We become a more populist and less elitist republic. No better recipe produces the more perfect union that our Constitution encourages of us.


  8. Panda Bear says:

    Should We Allow Voters To Veto Legislation?

    And why not?? Didn’t Tallahassee have to guts to “veto” its citizens’ vote on class size? It’s about time the worm turns.

  9. Stacie says:

    Public financing of campaigns?? I thought we put that particular handout to rest a couple of years ago.

  10. Pines/Broward says:

    Omg Angelo,

    Give us all a break. Your knickname in Broward County is IKE…. I Know Everything!! You can’t handle your job in Pines, stop putting your two cents in on stuff that makes no difference to the residents of Pines. We pay you, not Broward County..

  11. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Public financing of campaigns is essential to our democracy’s future for several reasons. First, it ensures fairness in running for all by equalizing the resources that candidates who qualify to run would have at their disposal. That in turn assures that most if not all incumbents are opposed when they run, which is good for residents.

    Second, it would eliminate this persistent belief that candidates “owe” their campaign contributors performance once elected. That belief, however justified if at all by the actions of individual office holders, erodes public trust. For those that believe this would be a tax increase, think again. Yes, your taxes would pay for campaigns. However the cost of goods and services sold to government today includes the relatively meager amounts that companies dole out in campaign contributions. You pay for it one way or the other. We complain about campaign financing all the time but we don’t seem to want to do anything about it. I’m not wired that way. When I have a problem, I want to fix it. I ascribe seriousness to the things I perceive are in need of fixing. Complaining without attempting reform is not my style.

    Third, it would level out the suspiciously oligarchical trend we’re seeing where the rich and powerful, having attained that station in life, decide to self-fund their own campaigns to the disadvantage of others running who lack that advantage. The public’s perception is mixed here — they at once object to it on principle yet such candidates have a very good track record for winning elections which just goes to show the power of advertising in political campaigns.

    However, to do this would alter certain speech rights. This can be done through court decisions, potentially through statutory reforms, but most certainly through Constitutional amendment. I felt strongly about this issue before I ran for office and feel the very same way about it today.

    Until campaigning for office is considered a governmental task, backed by taxpayer funds distributed to candidates that qualify under strict and uniform spending limits, public trust concerns will continue and voters encouraged to cast their vote for reasons other than substance of the platform that candidates offer. In my view we are worse off for that exchange, not better off.

    Some say this would be unfair. That corporations pay taxes also, lots of taxes, but they get no vote at the polls. I disagree. Corporations are made up of people, workers, and those people have the right to vote. Their votes should be cast on the basis of what they think is best for society. The job of candidates is to assemble that base of support into winning campaigns. Frankly, those that lack a balanced sense of urgency to support both residential and business concerns don’t belong in office because they won’t be able to perform well. That balance is required to move any community forward effectively.

    There are other campaign related reforms that are important, like ethical conduct on the campaign trail and dealing with these “accounts” that pop up, seeking to influence the outcome of campaigns disguised as something or somebody else. But public financing is the important first step and, as far as I’m concerned, we as Americans have a choice. We can do something about it and improve our democracy or we can fail to act at which point let’s stop complaining about it. It’s really one or the other.

    Take ownership of your country and don’t settle for the things you don’t like about it. Fix them.



  12. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    …forgot to mention. But until public financing of campaigns happens, candidates that are not independently wealthy but wish to serve face no choice but to raise funds in the existing legal ways if they intend on waging winning campaigns. That’s just the reality of the situation.



  13. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Just a note to Comm.Castillo. If your name was mentioned once it was mnetuioned 100x by guess who other than Comm.Shariff. I mean she went on and on that she beat an Hispanic. First of all I have never even heard Angelo mention his hertigage. I mean you will get there sooner than later Mr.Castillo. I mean your 8 million dollars helped Comm.shariff-an d don’t say it didn’t. You got beat by a muti-millionaire Angelo, is what she should have said.Also thank you for hiring people w/ some what of a past and giving them a secound(2) chance at your Organizartion. Again thank you everyone derseves a secound chance (except me right to some of you bastards)This was stated at th e re-districting hearing for point of reference Comm.Castillo. I mean she went on and on diging and digging the guy. She remind s me of Star JOnes. Doesn’t she???. Cheap shot there Babsie.

  14. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Robert:

    I am a Cuban American, born on the island just as Castro took power and was brought to the US by my parents at age three. We became US citizens seven years later. I grew up in NYC but had family in South Florida, always felt comfortable here, and over the years developed a personal connection to the area. My wife and I have raised our two girls in Pembroke Pines, we’re both from New York but consider ourselves Floridians and love it here.

    Commissioner Sharief didn’t just beat me, she kicked my ass in that primary. It wasn’t even close. Hers was a much better run campaign and she earned that win. Her base came out to vote and mine did not. You win some and you lose some in life — she has lost campaigns before and now I can say I lost one. Like hers, my candidacy was encouraged by friends and neighbors. Many community leaders also asked me to run. It was my belief that I could do the job well and bring positive change to the county. My hope is that Barbara does that and I communicated that to her the day after the primary. There are no hard feelings that I have for her whatsoever. To the contrary, I wish her only success. That’s what our community needs from her.

    As I re-read my comments above I can now see how some might think this was intended as a shot at her. It is not. I have held these very same beliefs for many years and have written about it previously.

    So please allow me to reiterate the standard disclosure — that any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Nonetheless those are my honest views and I stand by them.

    I appreciate your giving me this opportunity to clarify my comments.



  15. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    Good job Angelo. I like hearing things like this.