Florida Legislators Pass Bill That Prevents Some Ex-Felons From Voting
A bill requiring felons to finish parole, probation and pay fines passed along party lines in the state Senate and House on Thursday and Friday.
Florida lawmakers passed a measure that could be a major hurdle for some ex-felons who want to exercise their new voting rights.
Florida's Amendment 4 passed in last year's midterm election. It gave felons who have completed their prison sentence the right to vote.
In recent weeks, lawmakers have been debating what exactly it means to "complete" a prison sentence. Some Republican legislators believe former felons need to finish parole, probation and pay outstanding fines before the sentence is really complete. A bill stipulating these requirements passed along party lines in the state Senate and House on Thursday and Friday.
That's a major letdown for many people who thought they had just won the right to vote. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, the fee amounts are "often unpayable on limited budgets." People convicted of crimes are more likely to be poor and having a criminal record is a major obstacle to finding a job.
Under this bill, if a former felon can't pay their fees, they're at the mercy of a judge to waive it or convert it to community service. Otherwise, they're out of luck.
The right to vote is a delicate issue in Florida, which has had a narrowly-held Republican majority for the past two decades. The new measure is being criticized as Republican power politics.
In the 2018 midterm election, 90% of black voters chose a Democratic candidate. And according to the the Florida Department of Corrections, the state's inmate population is almost 50% black. That's disproportionate compared to the population as a whole. Black people only make up about 17% of Floridians.
The bill now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was against Amendment 4 and pushed for the new rules.
1 year until Iowa caucuses, Trump's path more complicated than before
Not all Republicans who voted for former President Donald Trump in the past have the same opinions now, suggesting a competitive caucus is coming.By AP
Trump kicking off 2024 run with stops in early-voting states
The former president has visits to both New Hampshire and South Carolina on his agenda.By Andrew Harnik / AP
Georgia election probe report on Trump to remain secret for now
The judge said he would further reflect on the parties' arguments and would reach out with any questions before making a final decision.By John Bazemore / AP
US added a strong 517,000 jobs in January despite Fed hikes
Companies are still seeking more workers and are hanging on tightly to the ones they have.By Robert F. Bukaty / AP
Minus-60 wind chills expected for some states this weekend
When wind chills reach minus 25, frostbite can occur in 15 minutes.By Tony Gutierrez / AP
Mortgage rates fall for 4th consecutive week
The average rate for a 30-year mortgage dropped slightly by 0.04% to 6.09%.By John Raoux / AP