Governor signs bill creating hurdles to change constitution

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Friday that creates more hurdles for citizens to change the Florida Constitution through petition drives.

The bill signed into law without comment requires paid petition gatherers to register with the secretary of state, outlaws paying gatherers based on the number of signatures they collect and creates fines if petitions aren't turned in within 30 days. The petitions also must include the name and permanent address of the gatherer.

Democrats said that will discourage people from collecting petitions in an amendment process that's already difficult. Republicans said it will help prevent fraud and keep out-of-state interests from meddling with the Florida Constitution.

Last year it was an amendment that restored voting rights for most felons once they've completed their sentences. In 2016 it was an amendment that legalized medical marijuana.

Current law requires petitioners to gather more than 766,000 signatures to place a proposed amendment on the ballot.

DeSantis on Friday signed a total of 38 bills recently passed by the Legislature. Some other notable measures:

— A bill requiring state prison officials to provide incarcerated women with feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes and toothpaste and certain kinds of soap. It also imposes new rules on male corrections officers in their interactions with female inmates.

— An extension of Florida's "Good Samaritan" law providing limited immunity from prosecution for people who report alcohol or drug overdoses. The changes would include immunity for such things as possession of drug paraphernalia, providing alcohol to someone under 21 or possession of alcohol by a person under 21.

— A bill allowing medical personnel to carry guns when they are involved in tactical law enforcement duties, such as assignment with a SWAT team. Medical personnel could carry guns only if they have a concealed weapons permit and must undergo firearms training and training in the law enforcement agency's use-of-force policies.

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