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Judge sets hearing on financial ‘statement’ for November ballot on abortion

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The “financial impact statement” would be presented to voters with a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to ensure abortion rights.

A Leon County circuit judge has scheduled a hearing June 5 in a lawsuit over a “financial impact statement” that would be presented to voters in November with a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to ensure abortion rights.

Judge John Cooper last week scheduled the hearing on a summary judgment motion by the political committee Floridians Protecting Freedom.

The committee has sponsored the proposed constitutional amendment and filed the lawsuit April 5.

Financial impact statements appear with ballot initiatives to provide estimated effects of the measures on government revenues and the state budget.

A state panel issued a financial impact statement for the abortion measure before two Florida Supreme Court rulings April 1 on abortion issues.

The statement included caveats about litigation surrounding state abortion laws and concluded, “Because there are several possible outcomes related to this litigation that differ widely in their effects, the impact of the proposed amendment on state and local government revenues and costs, if any, cannot be determined.”

The Supreme Court subsequently rejected a challenge to a 15-week abortion limit that lawmakers passed in 2022. That ruling also effectively will allow a six-week abortion limit to take effect.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature approved the six-week limit in 2023.

The Supreme Court also ruled that the abortion-rights proposal, known as Amendment 4, can go on the November ballot. In the lawsuit, Floridians Protecting Freedom said a new financial impact statement is needed because the statement approved by the panel is no longer accurate.

The lawsuit, in part, said the panel’s financial impact statement “largely presents outdated information about the legality of abortion under statutes and litigation unrelated to Amendment 4” and that “the inclusion of such information renders it confusing, ambiguous and misleading.”

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