New Florida Law Will Stop Bloomberg-Financed Gun Control Petition Drives

ron desantis hb-5 bloomberg

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)

Michael Bloomberg is worth an estimated $56 billion. He’s used a relatively small part of that stack of cash (tens of millions of dollars) to push gun control efforts in a variety of states around the country. Besides funding the campaigns of selected anti-gun (“gunsense”) politicians, he’s also funded efforts to get gun control initiative questions on ballots in Colorado, Washington and other states.

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(AP Photo/Henny Ray Abrams)

Florida, however, has now taken steps to keep out-of-state financiers from bussing in paid signature collectors to further their own pet political goals. Earlier this week, Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB-5 into law.

From Orlando Weekly:

The bill places new restrictions on the petition-gathering process, which plays a critical role in getting initiatives on the ballot. For the November 2020 election, as an example, supporters of amendments need to submit 766,200 valid petition signatures to reach the ballot.

Among other things, the bill makes it illegal to pay petition gatherers based on the number of petitions they collect, a change that is expected to drive up costs for amendments backers. Also, the bill requires submission of information about petition gatherers, including their permanent and temporary addresses and dates of birth. In addition, it requires petitions to be turned into county supervisors of elections no more than 30 days after being signed by voters and includes penalties of up to $50 for each late submission.

The prohibition on paid petition-gatherers takes effect immediately, while other petition-related changes in the bill will take effect in 30 days, according to a House analysis. The changes apply to amendments proposed for the 2020 ballot, though they do not affect signatures already gathered.

Supporters of the bill have said it is needed to combat fraud and efforts by out-of-state interests to use the initiative process to change the Florida Constitution.

The NRA’s Marion Hammer sent the following letter out to Unified Sportsmen of Florida and NRA members:

HB-5 – Contains an amendment by Rep. James Grant (R) to restore the right of Floridians to control the Florida citizen ballot initiative petition process.

The amendment is intended to stop out-of-state billionaires from crafting amendments to Florida’s Constitution, then sending paid, out-of-state petition gatherers into Florida to collect petition signatures to change the Constitution for the benefit of out-of-state special interests.

The House voted 105-0 to pass the Grant amendment with 15 House members not voting. The Senate concurred in the Grant amendment and passed the bill 22-17.  On June 7, 2019, Governor DeSantis signed the bill into law. 

Bill Cotterell, a reporter with the Tallahassee Democrat, framed it well in his article on June 8, 2019 when he said:

“When it takes effect, the bill will soon require people gathering petitions to register with the state and live in Florida, effectively eliminating a sort of cottage industry that specializes in crafting constitutional amendments and guiding them through the referendum process. It also forbids paying canvassers by how many voter signatures they gather.”

The new process takes effect in 30 days.

These changes are critically important to gun owners, as anti-gunners repeatedly try to subvert the Constitution and Second Amendment rights by imposing gun bans and gun control through the ballot petition process.

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