ADVISORY OPINION TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL RE: RIGHT TO COMPETITIVE ENERGY MARKET FOR CUSTOMERS OF INVESTOR-OWNED UTILITIES; ALLOWING ENERGY CHOICE
January 9, 2020
The Attorney General of Florida has requested this Court’s opinion as to the validity of a citizen initiative petition circulated pursuant to article XI, section 3 of the Florida Constitution. We have jurisdiction. See art. IV, § 10, art. V, § 3(b)(10), Fla. Const. For the reasons expressed below, we conclude that the proposed initiative, titled “Right to Competitive Energy Market for Customers of Investor-Owned Utilities; Allowing Energy Choice” (“the Initiative”), should not be placed on the ballot.
While the parties have raised a number of issues for this Court’s consideration, we address only one issue which is dispositive—that the ballot summary affirmatively misleads voters to believe the Initiative grants a right to sell electricity. The right to sell issue falls under the clarity requirements of section 101.161, Florida Statutes (2019). Section 101.161(1) requires the ballot summary, which is limited to seventy-five words, to describe a proposed amendment to the Florida Constitution “in clear and unambiguous language on the ballot.” Moreover, the ballot title, limited to fifteen words, “shall consist of a caption, not exceeding 15 words in length, by which the measure is commonly referred to or spoken of.” Id. The purpose of these requirements is “to provide fair notice of the content of the proposed amendment so that the voter will not be misled as to its purpose, and can cast an intelligent and informed ballot.” Advisory Op. to the Att’yGen. re Voting Restoration Amendment, 215 So. 3d 1202, 1207 (Fla. 2017) (quoting Advisory Op. to Att’y Gen. re Term Limits Pledge, 718 So. 2d 798, 803 (Fla. 1998)); see also Armstrong v. Harris, 773 So. 2d 7, 12 (Fla. 2000) (explaining that section 101.161, Florida Statutes, codifies a constitutional “accuracy requirement”).
For the reasons stated, we conclude that the ballot summary is misleading and does not comply with section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes. Accordingly, this Initiative should not be included in the ballot.
It is so ordered.
CANADY, C.J., and POLSTON, LABARGA, LAWSON, and MUÑIZ, JJ., concur.