Florida House passes bill allowing ex-felon voting rights

CURT ANDERSON
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Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Windermere, debates the felon voting rights bill during session Wednesday April 24, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Legislation to restore voting rights to convicted felons except murderers and felony sex offenders has passed the Florida House.

The Republican-dominated House voted 71-45 Wednesday for the bill that would implement a constitutional amendment approved by voters last November. The main issue is 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.

Republican Rep. Jamie Grant of Tampa, the main sponsor, said completion of a sentence includes probation and any financial obligations ordered by a judge. Opponents said those requirements would bar many former felons and violate the spirit of the constitutional amendment.

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