Self-ex­e­cut­ing rules

Tampa Bay Times - - Opinion -

Your ar­ti­cle on the “con­fu­sion” sur­round­ing the restora­tion of Florida felons’ vot­ing rights points out a dif­fi­cult, and re­cur­ring, is­sue un­der court in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Florida’s con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions grant­ing rights: Too fre­quently, the pro­vi­sions are con­strued as not be­ing “self-ex­e­cut­ing,” which places the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­vi­sion into the hands of the Leg­is­la­ture and not the peo­ple, who ap­proved the pro­vi­sion to counter leg­isla­tive in­ac­tion or hos­til­ity. An ex­am­ple: Ar­ti­cle II, Sec­tion 7(b) of the Florida Con­sti­tu­tion in­cludes lan­guage that states quite clearly that those who pol­lute waters within the Ever­glades Pro­tec­tion Area shall be “pri­mar­ily re­spon­si­ble for pay­ing the costs of the abate­ment of that pol­lu­tion.” The pro­vi­sion was adopted in 1995. The Florida Supreme Court held the pro­vi­sion is not self-ex­e­cut­ing, and re­quired leg­isla­tive ac­tion. I have been un­able to find any such leg­isla­tive ac­tion. Thus, the cleanup bur­den falls on tax­pay­ers and not pol­luters. Will a sim­i­lar fate of no leg­isla­tive ac­tion thwart the peo­ple’s voice re­gard­ing felons’ vot­ing rights?

Richard Ja­cobs, Tierra Verde

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