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Florida House passes bill mandating ex-felons pay criminal fees before they can vote

Opponents say the bill is a blow to the state’s effort to restore voting rights for up to 1.4 million people with felony convictions.
People wait in line to vote at a polling station in Miami late on Nov. 6, 2018.Rhona Wise / AFP - Getty Images file

The Florida House approved legislation along party lines Wednesday to restore voting rights to convicted felons, except murderers and felony sex offenders.

The Republican-dominated House voted 71-45 to implement a constitutional amendment approved by voters last November. The main issue was whether legislation is needed at all, and whether the bill sets up unnecessary hurdles for ex-felons such as requiring that all fines and restitution be paid.

Opponents of the bill say those requirements would bar many former felons and violate the spirit of the constitutional amendment.

Republican Rep. James Grant of Tampa, the main sponsor, said completion of a sentence includes probation and any financial obligations ordered by a judge.

The bill now goes to the Senate where a similar measure is pending.