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Did you know that in the Florida Panhandle counties (Santa Rosa, Escambia, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay), citizens have no ability to initiate a recall election process for an elected county official found to be corrupt or incompetent? Yup. We are at the mercy of the official's willingness to resign or to forego a re-election attempt. That can make for a LONG four years for citizens subjected to such behavior. That is why we need you to urgently SUPPORT HJR 1603 (Williamson) and HB 1605 (Williamson) Recall of County Officers and Commissioners before tomorrow. This set of bills will be heard in the Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee tomorrow at 8 am CT. The first bill (HJR 1603), which is a proposed joint resolution, proposes amending the Florida Constitution to allow the Legislature to provide for the recall of county officers and commissioners. Each chamber of the Legislature must pass this joint resolution by a three-fifths vote. It would then be placed on the ballot as a proposed constitutional amendment to be voted on by Florida voters at the next general election or at an earlier special election specifically authorized by law for that purpose. The second bill (HB 1605) provides that any member of a governing body of a non-charter county may be removed from office by the electors of that county. It would only apply if HJR 1603 passes. Some background information:

  • Under Florida law, there are seven allowable grounds that must be provided to initiate the process for a recall election of a public official: malfeasance, misfeasance, neglect of duty, drunkenness, incompetence, permanent inability to perform official duties, and conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude.

  • Even if someone meets one of the allowable grounds for recall, a recall requires an arduous signature gathering and approval process before an election can be scheduled.

  • Currently, not all elected county officials are eligible for a recall election. Those eligible must have been elected to a governing body of a municipality or a chartered county.

  • Florida has 67 counties and only 20 of them have charters. None of the chartered counties are in the Panhandle. This bill would remove the inability to recall bad elected county officials in the unchartered Panhandle counties and elsewhere in Florida.

Please contact the members of the House Local Administration and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee below before tomorrow and urge them to VOTE "YES" on these bills.

And while you are at it, please send a note of thanks to Rep. Jayer Williamson for sponsoring these important bills.

Thank you, Jean Siebenaler Santa Rosa Democrats Legislative Liaison

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