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By Ben Kesslen and Associated Press

The Florida House approved legislation along party lines Wednesday to restore voting rights to people with felony convictions, which opponents said was a blow to the state’s effort to enfranchise more than a million people.

In November, Florida approved a new constitutional amendment by referendum to restore voting rights to convicted felons except murderers and felony sex offenders, which could grant up to 1.4 million people the right to vote.

But the Republican-dominated House voted 71-45 Wednesday for the bill advocates say sets up unnecessary hurdles for people who completed their felony sentence, requiring them to pay all their criminal fines and fees before they can get their voting rights restored.

Opponents of the bill say the requirements would bar many former felons and violate the spirit of the constitutional amendment, and are calling into question whether the Florida legislation needed to pass legislation on this issue at all, when Florida voters already decided on the issue in November.

Republican Rep. James Grant of Tampa, the main sponsor, said completion of a sentence includes probation and any financial obligations ordered by a judge.

Ben Kesslen writes for NBC News. 

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