This guide was compiled by Business Voice Political Committee as a resource for voters to better understand the proposed amendments.  We have also posted links to guides published by other organizations on our main 2018 Elections About Page.

Florida Amendment 1 (Legislature)

Homestead Exemption Increase Amendment

“Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to increase the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed valuation of homestead property greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000 for all levies other than school district levies. The amendment shall take effect January 1, 2019.”

Summary

The Florida Legislature placed Amendment 1 on the 2018 general election ballot. If approved by the voters, it will expand existing homestead property tax exemptions. Currently, there is a full Homestead Exemption on the first $25,000 of assessed property value. There is no exemption on the value between $25,000 and $50,000. The “Second Exemption” is for the value between $50,000 and $75,000. There is no exemption on the value between $75,000 and $100,000. The proposed Amendment 1, also referred to as the ”Third Exemption” would exempt the value between $100,000 and $125,000.

Not all homeowners would see a decrease of their tax bill. Only those with homes valued over $100,000, estimated to be 65% of Florida homeowners . The impact of Amendment 1 is expected to cost $644.7 million per year— meaning local governments will collect less revenue from property taxes. Local governments argue this will result in either service reductions or tax hikes on other non-exempt properties.

Localities and associations like the Florida Association of Counties and Florida City and County Management Association are adamantly opposing Amendment 1.  The Florida League of Cities state: “Amendment 1 isn’t what it seems. The Tallahassee politicians call it a tax break, but it’s really a tax SHIFT. … the benefits of Amendment 1 will only apply to some homeowners, and shift the burden of paying taxes to all other citizens. … Florida’s property tax system is a complicated mess and Amendment 1 makes it worse, more complicated and less fair—shifting a bigger burden onto small business owners, manufacturers and working families.”

Robert E. Weissert, the executive vice president for Florida TaxWatch, also doesn’t support Amendment 1, because of the inequity it creates. Though that sentiment might surprise those who assume TaxWatch is an anti-tax organization, Weissert says it shouldn’t.  “It’s just a tax shift,” he said.

The Florida League of Women Voters opposes Amendment 1  because they take the position that “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”

News Links

How much could Amendment 1 save you in property taxes? http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/05/16/how-much-could-amendment-1-save-you-in-property-taxes-pinellas-appraiser-mike-twitty-created-a-statewide-tool-to-estimate-potential-savings/

Tool created by property Appraisers to predict impact: http://www.3hxestimator.org/hb3/hb3.php

Amendment 1: what you need to know by Florida League of Cities https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pqNcRfhk9Q

Know before you vote: Amendment 1. http://www.greenepublishing.com/know-before-you-vote-amendment-one/

Florida Association of Counties: http://www.fl-counties.com/amendment-1

Localities Bemoan Expected Expansion of Homestead Exemption

Florida Amendment 2 (Legislature)

Limitation on property tax assessments

“Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to permanently retain provisions currently in effect, which limit property tax assessment increases on specified non-homestead real property, except for school district taxes, to 10 percent each year. If approved, the amendment removes the scheduled repeal of such provisions in 2019 and shall take effect January 1, 2019.”

Summary

The Florida Legislature voted to place this amendment on the ballot to make permanent the limit property tax increases on non-homestead properties. This provision was first put in place in 2008, when voters passed the non-homestead 10 percent tax cap in. This safeguard has helped to stem the multi-billion dollar tax shift from homestead to non-homestead properties. For example, prior to the non-homestead tax cap, nearly three out of four non-homestead properties in Florida had taxes increases of more than 10 percent year to year. In 2006, 30 percent of non-homestead properties were hit with an 80 percent hike from just the year before.

This cap is scheduled to expire on January 1, 2019. If the amendment were to fail, and the provision were to expire, it could result in Floridians paying as much as $700 million more in property taxes annually according to a study done by Florida Tax-Watch.

The Florida Realtors and the Florida Chamber of Commerce are actively supporting Amendment 2. “Making the 10 percent non-homestead tax cap permanent in Florida impacts everybody in the state. It allows business owners to plan for the future by having a better grasp on their budgets, so they can expand and create more jobs. It helps renters continue to afford their housing as they save to one day purchase a home,” said Carrie O’Rourke, Vice President of Public Policy for the Florida Association of REALTORS®.

The Florida League of Women Voters opposes Amendment 2  because they take the position that “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”

News Links

http://www.floridatrend.com/article/24542/repealing-floridas-non-homestead-excemption-cap-could-result-in-annual-700-million-tax-increase

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/264082-amendment-supporters-fear-voter-fatigue

http://www.floridataxwatch.org/library/amendment22018

Everybody Is For Amendment 2 campaign

Amendment 1 and 2 Note:

Florida does not have a state income tax, so property taxes are Florida’s largest state and local tax source. Amendment 1 and 2 reflect the complicated dynamic at play – wanting to limit the tax burden on property owners, but in doing so limiting the revenue for government budgets, resulting in reduced services or tax increases on non-exempt properties or raising other government fees.

 

 

Florida Amendment 3 (Petition)

Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative

This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida. This amendment requires a vote by citizens’ initiative pursuant to Article XI, section 3, in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law. This section amends this Article; and also affects Article XI, by making citizens’ initiatives the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling.”

Summary

The initiative was put on the ballot via petition and is being supported mainly by a group called Voters in Charge.https://votersincharge.org/ . The purpose of this initiative is to add an amendment to the state constitution saying that all Floridians have the right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling anywhere in Florida (slot machines, blackjack, craps, roulette, etc.) as opposed to the state legislature or individual counties.

Under current law, the Legislature could vote to approve new casinos with a simple majority, although such legislative efforts in recent years – including this year – have mostly failed.

Amendment 3 would require another constitutional amendment, through a citizen initiative only, for any new casino gambling in Florida. A citizen initiative is the process where signatures are gathered to place an amendment on the ballot.  It also requires 60% of those voting to approve an amendment.

Amendment 3 would effectively stop the Legislature from either passing laws to allow casino gambling or placing its own casino amendments on the ballot. It also would preclude the CRC, which meets every 20 years, from putting casino amendments on the ballot.

The two main supporters and financial contributors to Voters in Charge are Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.  Other supporters include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Attractions Association, the Democratic Progressive Caucus and the Florida Family Policy Council. 

Main opposition to Amendment 3 are current pari-mutuel gambling operators (horse and dog tracks) who would like to expand their operations to include casino gambling and claim amendment 3 would hamper the growth of the industry and even result in job losses.

Expansion of gambling has been an issue the state has grappled with for years.  Any expansion would require the legislature to change terms of existing authorized gaming with the Seminole tribe, which contributes a great deal to the state budget.  The issue has been further complicated since 2012, when voters in eight counties, including Brevard, voted to expand gambling in their county by allowing slot machines at existing dog or horse racing facilities.  The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that individual counties outside of Miami-Dade and Broward (which were authorized by statewide Constitutional Amendment) cannot authorize slot machines by local vote.

That said, Amendment 3 would not end gambling in Florida. The Seminole tribe would be allowed to continue operating wagering operations provided for in state-tribal compacts approved pursuant to the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.   It also does not affect gambling that is already authorized in the constitution, including pari-mutuel operations and Miami-Dade and Broward slot machines. 

News Links

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/263417-gambling-amendment-supporters

https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2018/05/11/disney-seminole-tribe-sink-10-million-into-anti-gambling-amendment-in-florida

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/tag/voter-control-of-gambling-amendment

http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/04/26/expand-gambling-in-florida-lawmakers-fold-will-let-voters-decide/

www.votersincharge.org

Florida Amendment 4 (Petition)

Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative

“Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, any disqualification from voting arising from a felony conviction shall terminate and voting rights shall be restored upon completion of all terms of sentence including parole or probation. (b) No person convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense shall be qualified to vote until restoration of civil rights.”

Summary

This initiative was put on the ballot via a petition that one of the support organizations, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, put on. The purpose of this amendment is to immediately give voting rights back to felons after they completed all terms of their sentence. As of right now, felons have to wait until and unless a state board restores their individual voting rights. This initiative would not include any one convicted of a felony murder or sexual offense.   Florida was estimated to have 1,686,318 persons—10.43 percent of the voting age population—disenfranchised due to felonies.

4 Democratic gubernatorial candidates have come out in support of Amendment 4, because Florida is one of only four states that still has a system that excludes so many people from voting, and they believe that these people deserve second chances.  There is alos a formal Yes campaign, Floridians for Second Chances.

Politicians who have taken positions against this amendment are Florida Speaker Richard Corcoran and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam. An official political organization against this measure is Floridians For A Sensible Voting Rights Policy. The executive director says they oppose this measure because “it [the initiative] treats all other felonies [felonies that are not murder or sexual sexual offense] as though they were the same. It’s a blanket, automatic restoration of voting rights.”

News Links

https://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Amendment_4,_Voting_Rights_Restoration_for_Felons_Initiative_(2018)

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/political-pulse/os-florida-voting-rights-on-hold-20180306-story.html

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/florida-ballot-initiative-could-give-ex-felons-voting-rights.html

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/column-reject-effort-to-restore-voting-rights-for-most-felons/2335809

https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2018/05/17/voter-restoration-act-could-add-365-million-to-florida-economy-says-study

https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/voting-rights-restoration-efforts-florida

http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/01/30/where-they-stand-candidates-for-governor-on-vote-for-felons/

 

Florida Amendment 5 (Legislature)

Two-Thirds Vote of Legislature to Increase Taxes or Fees Amendment

“Prohibits the legislature from imposing, authorizing, or raising a state tax or fee except through legislation approved by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature in a bill containing no other subject. This proposal does not authorize a state tax or fee otherwise prohibited by the Constitution and does not apply to fees or taxes imposed or authorized to be imposed by a county, municipality, school board, or special district”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot and proposed by Governor Rick Scott in his last State of the State Address. This amendment would require 2/3 majority of each chamber (house and senate) of the state legislature for any state tax or fee to be raised, or a new one enacted. This amendment would also require that a bill enacting a new or increasing an existing tax or fee contain no other subject, meaning that the bill would have the only the proposed tax, no riders attached.

Besides Rick Scott, numerous other representatives in the Florida legislature agree with this measure. The stated arguments are that it should always be harder for the government to raise taxes on the people.

One state Senator who opposes this measure, Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, believes that this would “tie the hands” of the Legislature in addressing issues. Another state representative, Rep. Joseph Geller says, “I think this is a short-sighted idea. There’s simply no need for this. Have some confidence in the people who will sit in these seats after you are gone.”

While increasing the threshold to pass a tax would guarantee needing a larger coalition for passage, it could also be said that it empowers a minority of legislators to oppose such efforts. This amendment applies only to the state legislature, and the 2/3 requirement would not be imposed on local governing bodies, school boards, or taxes proposed through state or local initiative process.

News Links

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/political-pulse/os-tax-proposal-legislature-20180314-story.html

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/florida/articles/2018-01-25/florida-house-require-2-3-vote-for-future-tax-hikes

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article203531809.html

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/258085-tax-supermajority-proposal-heads-voters-approval

 

 

Florida Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges (CRC)

Marsy’s Law; Judicial Retirement Age; and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment

“Creates constitutional rights for victims of crime; requires courts to facilitate victims’ rights; authorizes victims to enforce their rights throughout criminal and juvenile justice processes. Requires judges and hearing officers to independently interpret statutes and rules rather than deferring to government agency’s interpretation. Raises mandatory retirement age of state justices and judges from seventy to seventy-five years; deletes authorization to complete judicial term if one-half of term has been served by retirement age.”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot by the Constitutional Revision Committee. This amendment actually includes three distinct proposals, as the CRC bundled them together to limit the total number of amendments on the Ballot. If you vote yes, you vote yes to all three of the proposals, and if you vote no, you vote no to all 3 of the proposals.

Amendment 6 would give constitutional rights to crime victims, increase the age that require judges to retire from 70 to 75, and would prohibit state courts from referring to administrative agency’s interpretation of a statute or rule in legal cases.

Many of Florida Sheriffs have come out in support of Amendment 6, and Marsy’s Law for All is an organization that supports this measure. The Victims Rights movement has grown from the perception that courts have gone too far in protecting the rights of criminal defendants.  But defense attorneys fear that giving victims a greater role in court proceedings turns them into emotional proceedings rather than legal proceedings.

The judicial age change is in response to a looming situation in Florida where three Supreme Court Justices will be required to step down at the same time.  Currently, judges and justices may continue to serve when they reach 70 if they are more than halfway through their six-year terms.  So rather than retire when they turned 70, Justices Pariente, Lewis and Quince opted to stay in and serve the remainder of their terms and which will end on the same day in January 2019.   The CRC tried to avoid being wrapped up in that political drama by sating the retirement changes won’t take affect until July 2019.

Amendment 6 will change from the present language and state that a judge’s or justice’s 75th birthday would be the mandatory retirement time.   It was sponsored by CRC member and former Bar President Bill Schifino.

The third part would forbid courts from deferring to a state agency interpretation of statute when considering a challenge to a law or rule if the legislature hasn’t spoke to the precise issue at hand. It is a legal principle known as the “Chevron Defense” after a 1984 U.S. Supreme Court case involving the oil company.  Critics have long argued the Chevron defense increases the power of bureaucrats, while supporters argue agencies are experts in their fields and capable of clarifying policy when there is no explicit legislative direction.

A judge ruled in August this amendment language was unclear and should be stricken from the ballot, but that ruling was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, who reversed the decision and ordered it WILL APPEAR on November Ballot.  https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article217929655.html

News Links

https://marsyslaw.us/

http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/04/16/crime-victims-measure-to-go-on-november-ballot/

https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-news/?durl=%2Fdivcom%2Fjn%2Fjnnews01.nsf%2F8c9f13012b96736985256aa900624829%2F455006f84d873f9b8525821a00501fe5

https://www.pressreader.com/usa/sun-sentinel-broward-edition/20180417/281779924716178

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/265408-another-dozen-sheriffs-endorse-crime-victim-rights-amendment

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/chevron_deference

 

Florida Amendment 7: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities (CRC)

Florida First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits, Supermajority Board Votes for College Fees, and State College System Amendment

“Grants 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. Requires supermajority votes by university trustees and state university system board of governors to raise or impose all legislatively authorized fees if law requires approval by those bodies. Establishes existing state college system as constitutional entity; provides governance structure”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot by the Constitutional Revision Committee. This amendment actually includes three distinct proposals, as the CRC bundled them together to limit the total number of amendments on the Ballot. If you vote yes, you vote yes to all three of the proposals, and if you vote no, you vote no to all 3 of the proposals.

The first proposal would require employers to pay death benefits to the qualifying survivors of first responders who died while on official duty. It also requires the state to pay death benefits to the qualifying survivors of active duty us military member who are accidentally killed or unlawfully and intentionally killed. It will also require the state to waive certain educational expenses to the surviving children of deceased first responder or military member. The second proposal would require a supermajority vote of a college board to raise college fees. The third proposal would add a structure of the state college system to the Florida Constitution. Which would give the state of Florida more control over the state college system.

Perhaps of all the CRC proposals, this one is criticized for combining issues that are not really tied – forcing voters to make tough choices.  It has been reported that the military and first responder benefits were added to increase the likelihood of the other proposals passing.

Governor Scott and outgoing Senator Joe Negron were leading advocates to limit the ability of universities to raise fees and narrow the scope of the state 28 community colleges so they do not undercut our universities by offering more four-year degrees.    While limiting fees may help with college affordability, it may also limit the schools ability to invest in facilities and faculty recruitment.  Making it explicit in the state constitution that community colleges are to be overseen by the state board of education as provided by the legislature should address concerns about duplication of resources in higher education, but some fear it will make it easier for the legislature to micromanage and pick favorites.

News Links

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/261413-first-responder-state-college-issues-go-on-ballot

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/editorials/2018/04/26/florida-voters-face-tortured-calculation-thanks-bundling-our-view/550075002/

 

 

Florida Amendment 8: School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools (CRC) UPDATE: Stricken From Ballot

Florida School Board Term Limits, Allow State to Operate Non-Board Established Schools, and Civic Literacy Amendment

“A proposed revision relating to education; amending Section 4 of Article IX and creating a new section in Article XII of the State Constitution to establish a limitation on the period for which a person may serve as a member of a district school board; amending Section 4 of Article IX of the State Constitution to specify which schools are operated, controlled, and supervised by a school board; and creating a new section in Article IX of the State Constitution to require the Legislature to provide for the promotion of civic literacy in public education.”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot by the Constitutional Review Committee, and like the previous two amendments, bundled three distinct proposals together. This amendment establishes a term limit (8 years) for School Board members, allows the state government to operate, control and supervise public schools that were not made by the school board, and requires the legislature to actively promote civic literacy (the knowledge on how to participate in your community) in public education.

Speaker Richard Corcoran was a major force in shaping this amendment, as he has been a fervent advocate for carter schools and expanding school choice.  If passed, the state would be able to create a new entity to approve new charter schools, even over opposition from local school boards. Current constitutional language prohibits the state from operating, controlling or supervising free public schools.

Proponents say more charter schools add innovation and competition to our system, and allow for changing education landscape (online/virtual schools*, homeschool hybrids etc) while opponents say this is an attempt to undermine locally controlled public schools.   This provision will face intense opposition from teachers unions and public school advocates.

While term limits for elected officials are generally popular idea and result in more frequent turnover in public office, opponents say voters should recognize the unintended consequence of empowering the unelected staff, administrators and lobbyists whose careers outlast those of the elected politicians.  News links below also cover the political dynamic between the state legislature and local districts, who often clash over education policies and funding.

Finally, while teaching civics to students is itself a non-controversial subject, state-mandates are often bemoaned by local districts who say they lead to cuts elsewhere because schools only have so much time and money.

UPDATE: On August 20th 2018 Judge John Cooper of Leon County Circuit Court  struck Amendment 8 from Florida’s November ballot, saying the three-pronged measure about schools was “misleading” and failed to inform voters of its purpose.  He noted it is about charter schools yet doesn’t use that term. As a result, he wrote, it “fails to inform voters of the chief purpose and effect of this proposal.”  On Friday September 7th, the Florida Supreme court upheld the ruling and confirm Amendment 8 WILL NOT APPEAR on the November Ballot.

 

News Links

http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/09/07/florida-supreme-court-removes-amendment-8-off-ballot/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-amendment-judge-ruling-schools-20180820-story.html 

http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/initiatives/fulltext/pdf/11-22.pdf

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/editorials/fl-op-editorial-constitution-revision-commission-20180424-story.html

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/05/04/florida-board-of-education-to-consider-civic-literacy-requirements-for-college-students/

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/04/19/florida-education-proposal-tagged-as-amendment-8-sound-familiar/

http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/gradebook/2018/06/04/florida-school-board-term-limit-backers-jump-start-campaign-for-amendment-8/

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/Florida-s-latest-debate-over-term-limits-Do-school-boards-need-fresh-ideas-or-experience-_165033195

*Note Florida already has online virtual school available to all school children K-12.

Florida Amendment 9: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces (CRC)

Florida Ban Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and Ban Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Amendment

“Prohibits drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state-owned waters between the mean high-water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. Adds use of vapor generating electronic devices to current prohibition of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions; permits more restrictive local vapor ordinances”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot by the Constitutional Review Committee, and like the previous two amendments, bundled multiple proposals together. This amendment would prohibit drilling for oil off the coast of Florida as well as put into place a measure that would prohibit the use of vapor-generating electronic devices in enclosed indoor workplaces.

In 2016 President Obama imposed a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling off of 120 million acres of the U.S. Outer Continental shelf in the Arctic and Atlantic. In 2017 President Trump repealed this moratorium citing that this would create more American jobs and give America more freedom from foreign oil and gas. This first part of Amendment 9 would ban drilling off of our coast. Much of our economy is reliant on tourism with our beaches, and property taxes paid by our coastal residents and businesses. Even though President Trump has SAID he’d excluded Florida, and by extension the Florida coast, from the drilling proposal, if passed, Amendment 9 would make it clear Florida voters do not want drilling off the coast.

Oil and natural gas industry are the main opposition to this amendment.

As for the vaping provision, supporters say this is a natural and necessary extension of the 2002 Constitutional amendment that banned smoking in Florida workplaces to protect workers from second-hand contaminants.

News Links

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/09/climate/trump-florida-offshore-drilling.html

https://www.naplesnews.com/story/news/government/2018/04/17/ban-offshore-oil-drilling-moves-closer-november-ballot-florida/525442002/

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/05/09/amendment-9-harm-floridas-energy-future-guest-column/585705002/

http://www.tampabay.com/florida-politics/buzz/2018/04/18/oil-industry-signals-opposition-to-amendment-to-ban-drilling-and-vaping/

 

 

Florida Amendment 10: State and Local Government Structure and Operation (CRC)

Florida State and Local Government Structure Amendment

“Requires legislature to retain department of veterans’ affairs. Ensures election of sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, and clerks of court in all counties; removes county charters’ ability to abolish, change term, transfer duties, or eliminate election of these offices. Changes annual legislative session commencement date in even numbered years from March to January; removes legislature’s authorization to fix another date. Creates office of domestic security and counterterrorism within department of law enforcement.”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot about the Constitutional Review Committee, and like the previous amendments, bundled multiple, unrelated, proposals together.

There is not really any opposition to 3 of the 4 provisions. This amendment would put into the Florida Constitution that the state is required to create the Department of Veteran Affairs and an Office of Domestic Security and Counter-terrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as well as move the legislative session commencement in even numbered years from March to January.  The date change will allow the 60 day session to end earlier in election years, so legislators may get to the business of campaigning.

The controversial part of the amendment would ban counties from being able to abolish certain offices like sheriff, tax collectors, etc. and require that an election will be held for each of the positions. This is aimed directly at Miami-Dade county, where all of those county positions are appointed by the mayor, rather than elected.  There are also a few other charter counties that have some of the positions as appointed jobs.   The Association of Counties opposes this change saying it undermines the principal of home rule:

“[The measure] would eliminate the constitutional right of local citizens to govern their sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and the management of county finances.”

While this amendment was challenged by charter counties Miami-Dade and Volusia, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling approving of the ballot language for use on the November General Election Ballot. http://floridapolitics.com/archives/274169-amendment-10-okd-ballot

News Links

https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Constitution#A4S06

https://floridataxcollectors.com/amendment-approved-constitution-revision-commission-placement-november-18-ballot/

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/Editorial-Kill-this-proposed-amendment-that-would-hamstring-local-governments-in-Florida_164814846

 

 

Florida Amendment 11: Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes (CRC)

Florida Repeal Prohibition on Aliens’ Property Ownership, Delete Obsolete Provision on High-Speed Rail, and Repeal of Criminal Statutes Effect on Prosecution Amendment

“Removes discriminatory language related to real property rights. Removes obsolete language repealed by voters. Deletes provision that amendment of a criminal statute will not affect prosecution or penalties for a crime committed before the amendment; retains current provision allowing prosecution of a crime committed before the repeal of a criminal statute.”

Summary

This amendment was put onto the ballot by the Constitutional Review Committee. This amendment actually includes three distinct proposals, as the CRC bundled them together to limit the total number of amendments on the Ballot. If you vote yes, you vote yes to all three of the proposals, and if you vote no, you vote no to all 3 of the proposals.

The first part of this measure would remove language in the Florida Constitution that says that people ineligible for citizenship cannot own land. The actual text is “except that the ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by alien’s ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law.” Florida was one of a number of states that enacted “Alien Land Laws” in the early 1900’s.  Critics say it is a racist, antiquated relic and we should not allow the government to control if a noncitizen can own land, but Florida voters have rejected previous attempts to repeal it.

The second part of this amendment would remove language from the constitution that no longer has any power because it has been repealed. The language is about a High-Speed Rail provision that was enacted in 2000 and repealed in 2004, but the language still remains.  This change is administrative in nature and will not change policy or funding.

The third and last part of this measure is a bit confusing, due to the wording.  In Sum, it would allow lawmakers to make changes to criminal laws retroactive.  For example, gun-rights groups like the Unified Sportsmen of Florida support this, in hopes it might ensure an NRA-backed law the legislature passed last year – which made clear that prosecutors, not defendants, must meet the burden of proof in stand your ground hearings – can be applied retroactively.

News Links

https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/repeal-of-alien-land-law-goes-on-ballot

https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/on-the-ballot-2018-proposed-constitutional-amendment-11/

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/political-pulse/os-long-ballot-amendments-20180418-story.html

https://www.law.com/dailybusinessreview/2018/06/27/florida-supreme-court-to-take-up-stand-your-ground-split/?slreturn=20180625004341

https://www.jurist.org/news/2017/07/florida-judge-rules-stand-your-ground-law-revisions-unconstitutional/

Florida Amendment 12: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers (CRC)

Florida Lobbying Restrictions Amendment

“Expands current restrictions on lobbying for compensation by former public officers; creates restrictions on lobbying for compensation by serving public officers and former justices and judges; provides exceptions; prohibits abuse of a public position by public officers and employees to obtain a personal benefit.”

Summary

This amendment was put on the ballot by the Constitutional Review Committee. This amendment would prohibit retired judges, for a period of 6 years, from personally representing someone else for money in front of the legislative or executive branches of state government. This amendment would restrict local elected officials from using their office for personal gain.

Often referred to as the “Lobby Ban” amendment, this proposal aims to end what is referred to as the “revolving door” where members of the legislature becoming lobbyists as soon as their team ends. The practices bring ups many ethical concerns, most notably that they get too cozy with special interests while serving in office in hopes of landing a lucrative job in the future.

“I think you ought to choose,” said former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, the Republican CRC member who is sponsoring the constitutional amendment expanding the lobbying ban. “If you want to be a lobbyist great, be a lobbyist. If you want to public official, be a public official and run for office. But you can’t be both — at least I don’t think you should.”

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has made expanding the state’s current two-year lobbying ban a top priority, sent a letter to the CRC urging members to approve the amendment, saying the Legislature has been incapable of policing itself.

“Recent legislative attempts to extend the lobby ban and impose stricter ethical requirements have been thwarted by the self-interested politicians we hope to regulate,” Corcoran wrote.

If the six-year lobbying ban becomes law it would be the strongest revolving door law in the nation. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, no state currently has more than a two-year ban on former lawmakers becoming legislative lobbyists.

Amendment 12 is one the few proposed constitutional changes that has broad, bipartisan support. A recent Florida Chamber of Commerce poll showed Amendment 12 had support from 55 percent of voters.

News Links

https://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2018/06/12/poll-points-to-trouble-for-many-ballot-proposals-in-florida-midterms

http://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20180127/political-insider-ethics-reform-advocates-pin-hopes-on-constitution-revision-commission

 

 

Florida Amendment 13: Ends Dog Racing (CRC)

Dog Racing Ban

“Phases out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities are not affected”

Summary

The amendment was put on the ballot by the Constitutional Review Committee, and is the only one not bundled with other issues. This amendment would phase out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities will not be affected.

Many animal rights groups have organized support for Amendment 13, and are calling it the “The Protect Dogs – Yes on 13” campaign.  Owners and operators of existing dog tracks have filed suit to block the amendment from appearing on the ballot, arguing the short ballot language put forth by the CRC misleads voters and fails to mention the loss of revenue and jobs in local communities should racing be banned.

Lawmakers have struggled for years on the issue of dog racing because of the many competing interests from the gambling industry and localities who benefit from the taxes collected at local tracks.

Attorney General Pam Bondi has been an opponent of greyhound racing and advocated for this amendment to be placed on the ballot.  A judge ruled in August the Amendment should be removed from the November ballot, but Bondi and other support groups appealed to the State Supreme Court, who ruled in her favor September 7th.  The Amendment WILL BE ON the November General Election ballot.   https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article217929655.html

News Links

Judge Strikes Down Dog Racing Ban For Misleading Voters

Florida Supreme Court to review ruling on Amendment 13

http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20180416/greyhound-racing-ban-in-florida-approved-for-november-ballot

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/265212-campaign-kickoff-dog-racing-ban

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2018/05/greyhound-owners-and-breeders-file-lawsuit-to-remove-amendment-13-from-ballot.html

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/261448-voters-dog-racing-ban

http://floridapolitics.com/archives/265316-committee-greyhounds-formation