In 2018, Florida voters came together to approve Amendment 4 and Amendment 11. However, the manner in which state lawmakers implemented these amendments continued the practice of restricting freedoms for many Floridians.
Florida’s “Savings Clause,” established in 1885, banned any changes made in criminal statutes to apply retroactively. In 2018, more than 60 percent of voters approved Amendment 11 to repeal this clause from the state’s constitution. However, the Legislature rewrote the voter’s intent and passed an implementing bill (SB 7066) to curtail the amendment’s intended consequences. The implementing legislation limits automatic retroactivity — it only allows for changes to be made retroactively if it is explicitly stated in the proposed bill. The Legislature’s actions have effectively maintained the status quo. If voters’ wishes were honored, allowing for changes to criminal statutes to be automatically applied retroactively would have helped rectify decades of injustice.
Amendment 4, supported by nearly 65 percent of voters, restored the right to vote for those with certain past felony convictions. (For more information, see the year 2019 on the timeline.)