But State Senator, Republican Paula Dockery, along with Democratic Representative Richard Steinberg, have filed companion bills that would permit citizens to “veto” certain bills if signed into law by the governor. Budgetary and emergency legislation would be exempt from citizen vetoes under Dockery’s Senate Joint Resolution 1490 and Steinberg’s House Joint Resolution 1231.
“Constituents reach out to me on a daily basis expressing frustration with the maze that is the legislative process,” Dockery said in a statement released today. “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.”
“Like many states, Florida should afford its citizens the opportunity to reject legislation that they deem detrimental to the state,” Steinberg added. “In a democracy, it is the citizens who should have the final word on whether to accept or reject a law.”
The popular referendum–which dates to the early 1900s in several states–allows a person or group to file a petition to have a public vote on a bill that the legislature has already approved. Every one of the two dozen states that permit the initiative process also allows citizens to propose popular referendums, except for Florida, Illinois, and Mississippi. The popular referendum, which has been used with more frequency in the past decade, is effectively a public veto of a law. Proponents may qualify popular referendums for the ballot by collecting a certain percentage of signatures in a set amount of time following the passage of the legislation in question. It’s the quintessential “gun behind the door” that allows citizens to keep their elected officials in check.
Most recently, Ohio voters in the November 2011 election used the popular referendum to overturn Senate Bill 5, which repealed the anti-public sector legislation signed into law by Governor Kasich.
The Dockery legislation is available here.