Pro-solar group files lawsuit to halt Amendment 1

Florida Solar Choice says Amendment 1 deceives voters

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist
Headline Goes Here

ORLANDO, Fla. - Less than a week before Election Day, pro-solar power groups have filed a lawsuit asking the Florida Supreme Court to stop Amendment 1 in a last ditch effort to halt the controversial ballot measure.

Florida Solar Choice, a political committee opposing the power company-backed Amendment 1, is asking the Florida Supreme Court to reopen a case that determined the language on the ballot was not misleading to Florida voters.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Florida Solar Choice lawyers told reporters they are filing this lawsuit based on the leaked statements by the policy director of the James Madison Institute, a think tank with support from Florida utility companies.

Sal Nuzzo, the policy director and vice president of the James Madison Institute, said in October that Amendment 1 was an attempt to deceive voters, according to the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times report.

[Related: What to know about Amendment 1 before you vote.]

The James Madison Institute has since said the Nuzzo mispoke.

"They are throwing this individual under the bus after he has claimed what many of us has suspected,” said Stephen Smith, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, during the press conference.The pro-solar group said

Nuzzo's comments are "proof of deception," said Ben Kuehne, a lawyer for the groups behind the lawsuit.

Amendment 1, known as Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice or the solar amendment, is a constitutional amendment and needs 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday afternoon, asks the Florida Supreme Court to block vote counting on Amendment 1.

“This extraordinary motion is based on newly discovered and previously unforeseen information that undermines and imperils the validity of this Court’s March 31, 2016 advisory opinion in this matter,” according to case documents.

Sarah Bascom, spokeswoman for a utility-funded group that supports the amendment, called the legal challenge "political grandstanding" and said the amendment will protect consumers, the Associated Press reported.

The solar amendment has been widely critiqued, because of utility companies backing the measure.

The Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times reported on Tuesday the utility industry has spent $42.7 million to win support for the amendment.

Copyright 2016 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.