Florida’s 12 Constitutional Amendment Proposals-To Be Decided on Nov. 6, 2018
Dear Friends & Neighbors,
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Florida voters who will be voting on next Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, would be facing 12 constitutional amendment proposals on the ballot (Amendment 8 related to charter schools and term limits for school board members will not appear on the ballot because it was stricken by the Florida Supreme Court). Each amendment needs at least 60% of yes votes in order to become enshrined in the Florida Constitution.
Keep in mind: if any of the amendment proposals seem unclear, contradictory, or have different components that seem unrelated or contains any component that you disagree with, then vote NO. Keep in mind that if a proposal can be made into a law, then it is best to avoid it becoming a constitutional amendment. Only measures that are clear, concise, and “timeless” should be considered to become constitutional amendment.
To read these amendment proposals on the ballot, please click HERE.
Below is a summary of what these proposals are aiming to accomplish:
Amendment 1: Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption—>Did not pass
This amendment raises the homestead property tax exemption by $25,000 for homes worth more than $100,000. This would exempt the value between $100,000 and $125,000 of a home that serves as the owner’s primary residence. Essentially, this would lower taxes for about 60% of the homestead properties.
In essence, Amendment 1 is a relief for the lower income families.
Amendment 2: Limitations on Property Tax Assessments—>Passed
This amendment proposal permanently places a 10% cap on the annual increase of non-homestead property tax assessments. It wouldn’t change the current law, but puts protections in place so exorbitant increases don’t impact renters, business owners, and consumers.
The concern I have regarding Amendment 2: if and when future inflation rate will be high, then local government revenue will be handicapped by this restriction.
Amendment 3: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida—>Passed
This amendment was placed on the ballot after the anti-gambling expansion group, Voters in Charge, collected more than 766,000 validated voters’ signatures. It would categorize card games, casino games, and slot machines as casino gambling, and would require any one who wants to build a casino to get hundreds of thousands of signatures to get a on the ballot and then hope for voter approval. This would make it more difficult for any dog track or horse track to expand its gaming.
Amendment 4: Voting Restoration Amendment—>Passed
This amendment restores voting rights to former felons (excluding those who were convicted of homicide and sexual felonies) who had completed serving their sentences, probations, and made all restitutions.
Currently, a person in Florida who finishes his or her sentence and probation and makes restitution must wait 5 to 7 years before they can apply to have their eligibility to vote restored. The waiting list to have a case heard by the governor and members of his cabinet, who form the Clemency Board, is about 10 years long.
Check out: Vote Yes For Florida’s Amendment 4
Amendment 5: Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees—>Passed
This amendment would require a two-thirds vote in the Florida House and Senate, instead of a simple majority, to raise taxes. It is placed on the ballot by legislature to make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise taxes. It helps to stop the legislative technique of adding tax and fee increases onto other legislative bills. It would also ensure bipartisan support for tax increase.
It does not apply to local taxes that might be raised in specific counties, cities, or other taxing districts such as school or fire districts.
Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims;Judges—>Passed
The Florida Constitution Revision Commission bundles together three separate issues in Amendment 6:
- Expand the scope of victims’ rights under the Florida Constitution, including: victims’ rights to due process; freedom from intimidation and abuse, protection from the accused and protections for victims. Many of these rights are already enumerated in state statutes
- Raise the mandatory retirement age of Florida judges (including Supreme Court justices) from 70 to 75
- Prohibit state courts from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a state statue or rule
Amendment 7: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities—>Passed
The Constitution Revision Commission bundles three separate issues together in Amendment 7:
- The mandatory payment of death benefits and waiver of certain educational expenses to qualifying survivors of certain first responders and military members who die performing official duties. The current Florida law provides death benefits to law enforcement officers, correction officers, firefighters and members of the National Guard. The proposal would add paramedics, emergency medical technicians and U.S. military members residing in Florida to the list.
- Require supermajority votes by university trustees and state university system board of governors to raise or impose legislatively authorized fees if law requires approval by those bodies.
- Establish the existing state college system as a constitutional entity and provide governance structure for such.
Amendment 9: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling;Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces—>Passed
This Florida Constitution Revision Commission proposal bundles two measures for clean water and clean air together:
- This amendment pertains just to state-controlled water, prohibiting oil and gas drilling for exploration or extraction in offshore areas.(The waters immediately adjacent to Florida’s coastline are in state control, but under federal jurisdiction farther offshore.). It doesn’t block transport of oil or gas from federal territorial waters through state waters to Florida’s ports.
- Second part of this amendment prohibits the indoor e-cigarettes and vaping devices. The amendment doesn’t restrict use of these devices inside private residences (unless they’re used for child or health care) nor in standalone bars or hotel room where smoking is allowed.
Amendment 10: State and Local Government Structure and Operation—>Passed
This is a Constitution Revision Commission proposal that includes four separate government regulatory proposals rolled into one:
- Requiring the legislature to start its annual session in January instead of March during even-numbered years because these are election years. An early start means lawmaker can finish before May.
- Create a counter-terrorism and security office within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
- Require the state to have a Department of Veterans Affairs, which already exists.
- Requiring all 67 counties to elect their sheriff, tax collector, election supervisor, and clerk of courts. Several Florida counties now have at least one of these positions appointed based on home-rule charters, such as Miami-Dade County, whose top law enforcer is appointed, not elected.
This amendment was legally challenged, but the Florida Supreme Court left it on the ballot in an early September ruling.
Amendment 11: Property Rights;Removal of Obsolete Provision;Criminal Statutes—>Passed
This amendment has three components:
- Currently, Florida Constitution has language that allows the legislature to prevent non-citizens from buying, selling, owning, or inheriting property. Amendment 11 would delete this language.
- Florida’s Constitution added the “Savings Clause” in 1885 and is one of only three states that enforces one. This clause forbids making changes to criminal sentencing laws retroactive. For example, if the legislature changes a mandatory minimum sentence for an offense from 20 years to five years, any one still being prosecuted for or already convicted of that offense would still have to serve 20 years. Amendment 11 repeals the Savings Clause.
- Deletes language approving a high-speed rail. Floridians voted down the high-speed rail project in 2004, but the language was never removed.
Amendment 12: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers—>Passed
This amendment expands ethics rules for public officials, both elected officials and government employees, including judges. The new rules are complex, essentially banning officials/employees from lobbying the state and federal government during their terms of office/employment and for 6 years afterward (currently the rule is 2 years). Amendment 12 also prohibits these officials from using their position for private gain.
These issues (Amendment 12) should be addressed through the legislative process rather than through constitution amendment.
Amendment 13: Ends Dog Racing—>Passed
This amendment prohibits racing and wagering on greyhounds or other dogs (or any member of the Canis Familiaris subspecies).
Overall Summary of these 12 Amendment Proposals, in the video below:
Gathered, written, and posted by Windermere Sun-Susan Sun Nunamaker
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