Civil rights groups say Florida legislature sidelined key issues

Posted at 12:02 AM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 06:53:22-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Civil rights groups say key issues were put on the sidelines during the 2019 Florida Legislative Session, including ratifying the 1972 Equal Rights Amendment. This would guarantee women equal treatment as men.

“We couldn’t even get the equal rights amendment bill to be heard in committee. Those of us who marched in the ‘70s and ‘80s, thought that our daughters would benefit from this law and that hasn’t happened at all,” said Kathy Mayo, President of the Lee County Chapter of the National Organization for Women.

Another disappointment for the civil rights group was the controversy with Amendment 4 giving back voting rights to felons, except those convicted of murder or sex crimes.

Governor DeSantis clarified that felons needed to pay back any court fees, fines, or restitution before they’re eligible to vote.

“We feel like the legislature ignored our vote,” Mayo said.

The Republican Party of Lee County feels this session was mainly a success, including the changes made to Amendment 4. Chairman Jonathan Martin says the governor’s clarification of a “completed sentence” for felons was necessary.

“This was an amendment that was put on the ballot by a citizen’s group and had absolutely no input from the leaders that were elected to the state of Florida. So they had to go after the fact and figure out what these words were,” Martin said.

Martin says the legislature needs to improve definitions of deadlines and rules for Supervisors of Elections.

“I think there needs to be a lot more accountability for our election officials especially,” Martin said.