Voters pass 11 amendments and revisions in Florida

Image: A generic "I Voted" sticker similar to those given out in some states.
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By: WINK
November 7, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WINK) -- The tallies are in and all but one amendment passed.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which consists of 37 members and meets every 20 years, will add each of the amendments to the Florida Constitution.

To be added to the Florida Constitution, the amendments had to secure 60 percent or more of the vote. Here is what voters need to know about the 11 amendments passed.

Amendment 1- Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption: Not Passed

Amendment 1 increases the amount of a home value that is exempt from property taxes. The exemption will be on the portion of assessed home values falling between $100,000 and $125,000. Between the $100,000 and $125,000 is a $25,000 amount of home value that other than school district taxes will be exempt from property taxes.

The Florida Constitution already provides an exemption, which is for the first $25,000 of the homes assessed value and for the value between $50,000 to $75,000. The yes vote raises the property tax exemption by $25,000 for homes worth more than $100,000, exempting the value between $100,000 and $125,000.

The amount homeowners will save will decrease the amount of funding allocated to essential local services, such as the fire department. The Florida Association of Counties estimates the Homestead Exemption Increase Amendment will take away $750 million in the first year. However, proponents content, if home prices continue to rise, the amendment pays for itself.

Amendment 2- Limitations on Property Tax Assessments: Passed

Amendment 2 designates a cap of 10 percent on annual non-homestead parcel assessment increases, such as on rental and commercial properties. Otherwise, the cap would have expired on Jan 1, 2019. School district taxes are not exempt from the amendment, which was passed in 2008.

Amendment 3- Voter Control of Gambling in Florida: Passed

Amendment 3 designates Florida voters the exclusive right to authorize casino gambling within the state. The amendment defines casino gambling: “Any type of games that are typically found in casinos and not horse racing, dog racing or jai alai exhibitions.”

The passage of the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative prevents Legislature from passing laws expanding gambling within the state. The voters will have total control. Now, Florida voters who reside in the northern part of the state, for instance, can grant casinos authority to start business in Fort Myers.

Amendment 3 does not negate the state-tribe compacts. That means casino gambling agreements on Native American tribal lands will not be impacted. Opposition to the measure, such as Bill Galvano who is a Florida state senator representing District 21, said its passage will lead to a “monopoly for the Seminole Tribe.”

Amendment 4- Voting Restoration Amendment: Passed

Florida citizens who have felony convictions, following the completion of all terms designated in their sentence including probation or parole, have their voting rights restored. However, the restoration of voting rights does not apply to convicted murderers or sexual offenders, as that power will still reside with the Governor and Cabinet.

Under previous law, former felons had to ask the Florida Clemency Board to restore their rights following five years after completion of their sentence. Florida was among the four states within the country that disenfranchise people with a felony conviction. The Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative is projected to impact 1.5 million Floridians.

Amendment 5- Super-majority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees: Passed

Amendment 5 requires a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature to impose, authorize or raise state taxes or fees — rather than a simple majority. The amendment designates that future bills must contain no other subject. State taxes and fees otherwise prohibited by the constitution will not be authorized.

“We should always make it much more difficult to raise taxes than it is to cut them,” Richard Corcoran said, Florida house speaker representing District 37. “This amendment will secure and protect that legacy from future legislatures bent on raising taxes.”

Amendment 6- Rights of Crime Victims; Judges: Passed

Amendment 6 creates constitutional rights for victims of crime, such as the right to due process, to be reasonably protected from the accused. Also, it prevents the disclosure of information or records, which can be used to locate or harass the victim or his or her family. The victim now has the right to be heard in public proceedings and to be informed, in various circumstances, of the proceedings of the case.

The amendment is bundled with two other rules. The first raises the mandatory retirement age of state judges and justices. Rather than the current limit of 70-years-old, the retirement age increases to 75-years-old. Additionally, Amendment 6 deletes the authorization to complete the judicial term if one-half of the term has been served by retirement age for the government employee.

The second bundle in Amendment 6 makes changes to the state’s law regarding judicial deference. State courts can not place more importance to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a law than, for instance, the defendant’s opinion. Therefore, the judge is obligated to perform an individual analysis of how the law applies to the specific case when interpreting statute.

Amendment 7- First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities: Passed

Amendment 7 combines three different issues. It designates a death benefit allocated by the employing agency to the family of first responders and military members. The death benefit, which includes some educational expenses post-high-school, applies when these government employees are accidentally killed or unlawfully and intentionally killed.

The second issue that pertains to the amendment is a requirement of a supermajority vote by both state university system board of governors — nine affirmative votes out of 13 members — and university trustees — 12 affirmative votes out of 17 members — to increase a college fee. The step most likely defers monetary increases on students.

The state college system will be reclassified. The amendment establishes the state college system in the Florida constitution, which provides an updated governance structure.

Revision 9- Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces: Passed

Amendment 9 covers two drastically different issues. It bans offshore oil and gas drilling. The amendment prohibits drilling for the aim of exploration or extracting natural gas and oil beneath all Florida owned waters, including the Florida Everglades, which covers an area that is between the ocean shoreline and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries.

The second issue that the amendment focuses on is expanding the existing smoking ban within indoor workplaces to include vaping. The vapor generating electronic devices, such as the popular JUULpods, are prohibited in enclosed indoor workplaces with some exceptions. The exceptions primarily apply to electronic device retailers that sell the products.

Amendment 10- State and Local Government Structure and Operation: Passed

Amendment 10 combines four proposals. First, the Department of Veteran Affairs is constitutionally required.

Second, the county charter is not able to abolish certain local offices, such as a sheriff, a tax collector, a property appraiser, a supervisor of elections or a clerk of the circuit court; and the amendment permanently requires an election for these offices.

The third proposal applies to the annual start date for the legislative session. It is now required to start on the second Tuesday of January, rather than March, in even-numbered years. Lastly, an office of domestic security and counter-terrorism will be created within the department of law enforcement.

Amendment 11- Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes: Passed

Amendment 11 bundles three distinct issues. It repeals a constitutional provision towards persons who are not citizens or nationals of the United States from owning property.

The second issue stipulates high-speed ground transportation systems to no longer be required, effectively repealed. In 2000, 53 percent of Florida voters approved an amendment to provide the development of a high-speed monorail. It would transport citizens from one urban area to another. However, in 2004, the amendment was repealed with 64 percent of the vote. Amendment 11 removes the text from the state constitution.

Thirdly, a provision will be repealed that forces the state to prosecute suspects of a crime under the law the person was originally charged, regardless if legislature has altered the law since then.

Revision 12- Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers: Passed

For public officers, Amendment 12 expands current restrictions on lobbying with the intent of earning money for himself or herself. The restrictions apply while in office and six years following, which is a significant increase from previous provisions of two years.

Ethics rules will be expanded for government employees, including judges, and elected officials. The additions to ethics rules under Amendment 12 places impediments to deter abuse of a public position for personal benefit.

Supporters of Amendment 12 assert, if the six-year time period is too long, maybe “public service” isn’t the person’s best fit.

Revision 13- Ends Dog Racing: Passed

“The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida,” Amendment 13 reads.

The amendment phases out pari-mutuel (a form of betting) operations on commercial dog races, which includes greyhounds, by the conclusion of 2020. Wagering on the outcome of live dog races in the State of Florida will be prohibited. However, the amendment does not have an effect on other gaming activities.

Supports maintained that the amendment will reduce the deplorable conditions it perceives racing dogs tolerate.



 
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