click image Whether felons who’ve completed their time behind bars or on probation should have their voting rights restored if they haven’t paid off all of their financial obligations has become a flashpoint as lawmakers grapple with carrying out a November constitutional amendment. Rep. James Grant, R-Tampa, has crafted a bill that’s shot him into the national spotlight, infuriated advocates of the amendment and spawned hundreds of phone calls and emails to legislators urging them to kill the proposal. The constitutional amendment, which appeared on the November ballot as Amendment 4, granted “automatic” restoration of voting rights to felons “who have completed all terms of their sentence, including parole or probation.” The voter-approved amendment excluded people “convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense.” Grant’s definition of what it means to have completed sentences has created the firestorm. Under the House proposal (HB 7089), felons would have to pay all court fees, fines and restitution to be eligible for the “automatic” vote restoration. Under current law, felons on probation must also reimburse the state for the costs of supervision, which could include fees for electronic monitoring or drug tests. Failure to pay those fees could result in revocation of probation,… Read full this story
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