(This message represents my opinion alone and does not represent the view of any political club, party, or other organization.)
This is How I am Voting on the Proposed Constitutional Amendments
There are 12 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution on the November Ballot. Three were put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature, and have the general goal of lowering property taxes and thereby reducing the money that local governments need for basic services, such as parks, libraries, and public safety. Two reached the ballot through citizen-initiated petitions, each covering a single issue. The remaining seven, many covering totally unrelated topics, were placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. (There originally were 8, but the Florida Supreme Court removed Amendment 8 from the Ballot.)
(Be sure to vote NO on each proposed amendment you are against. Do not leave any question clank!)
NO on Amendment 1, the Homestead Exemption Increase Amendment, put on the ballot by the Florida Legislature, would exempt more of a home’s value from property taxes.
NO on Amendment 2, the Permanent Cap on Nonhomestead Parcel Assessment Increases Amendment, also put on the ballot by the Florida Legislature, would make permanent the 10% cap on property tax increases of nonhomestead property ( 2nd homes, rentals, and other commercial property), which would otherwise expire on January 1, 2019.
NO POSITION on Amendment 3, the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative, put on the ballot by a citizen-initiated petition drive, would take the authority to authorize casino gambling in Florida away from the Legislature, and would make the citizen-initiated petition process the exclusive method for authorizing casino gambling in Florida. Horse racing, dog racing, jai alai, and casino gambling at the Seminole Tribe’s facilities would not be impacted by this proposal.
YES on Amendment 4, the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, also on the ballot through the citizen-initiated petition process, would automatically restore the right to vote to Floridians with prior felony convictions, except for those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation. Florida is one of only 3 states to impose a lifetime ban on voting for those with prior felony convictions, and as a result there are over 1.4 million of our friends and neighbors who cannot vote even after paying their debt to society. The current system takes forever and is arbitrary. Voting YES on Amendment 4 is a common sense approach to fixing our broken system and creating a more inclusive democracy.
NO on Amendment 5, the 2/3 Vote of Legislature to Increase Taxes or Fees Amendment, placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature, would require a 60% supermajority rather than a simple majority vote to enact new taxes or fees or increase existing taxes or fees. (As the Democratic Progressive Caucus says, this would make it nearly impossible for future legislatures to address budget needs, such as teacher raises or natural catastrophes.)
All of the remaining proposals were put on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission.
NO on Amendment 6, the Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights, Judicial Retirement Age, and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment would: (a) add specific rights for victims of crime to the Constitution; (b) increase the retirement age of judges, from 70 to 75 years of age; and (c) prohibit state courts from continuing to defer to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a statute or rule. (This proposal is a perfect example of why an amendment should only cover one topic. Many people like the idea of increasing the retirement age of judges, but don’t want to be forced to vote for the two other proposals.)
NO on Amendment 7, the First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits, Supermajority Board Votes for College Fees, and State College System Amendment would: (a) require an employer or the state to provide death benefits to surviving spouses of 1st responders and active duty military members; (b) require a supermajority vote to increase college fees; and (c) add the current structure of Florida’s system of higher education to the Constitution.
NO on Amendment 9, the Ban Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling, and Ban Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Amendment, containing only two unrelated topics, would: (a) ban offshore drilling for oil and natural gas on land beneath all state waters; and (b) ban vaping (including the use of vapor-generating devices like electronic cigarettes) in enclosed indoor workplaces.
NO on Amendment 10, the Florida State and Local Government Structure Amendment, with four unrelated topics, would: (a) require the Legislature to provide for a State Department of Veterans Affairs; (b) create a State Office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism; (c) change the start date of legislative sessions from March to January; and (d) prohibit counties from abolishing certain local offices, including sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, and clerks of courts, and require them to be elected. (This would take away the control granted to charter counties and limit their ability to respond to local conditions.)
NO on Amendment 11, the Repeal Prohibition on Aliens’ Property Ownership, Delete Obsolete Provision on High-Speed Rail, and Repeal of Criminal Statutes Effect on Prosecution Amendment would: (a) repeal the constitutional provision prohibiting aliens from owning, inheriting, disposing, and possessing property. (A similar proposal was rejected in 2008.); (b) repeal obsolete language in the Constitution about developing a high-speed monorail in Florida. (The original proposal was repealed in 2004.); and (c) delete a provision saying that changes to a criminal statute will not effect the prosecution or penalties for a crime committed before the change. (After re-reading this proposal multiple times, its impact is unclear and disputed.)
NO on Amendment 12, the Lobbying Restrictions Amendment would prohibit public officials from lobbying for compensation while in office and six years thereafter. (As the Democratic Progressive Caucus says, this could be applied too broadly at the local level, and would not solve the problem of money and influence in politics.)
NO on Amendment 13, the Ban on Wagering on Dog Races Amendment would ban betting on dog races, including greyhound races. (Many feel that dog racing is inhumane, but should this really be in the Constitution?)
Many groups and individuals have different opinions about these proposed amendments. The Broward Democratic Party’s Platform Committee, for example, recommends a yes vote on Amendments 3, 4, 9, and 13. I happen to feel very strongly about some issues not being appropriate to include in the Florida Constitution, and about including totally unrelated topics in a single proposal. It is absolutely essential that Amendment 4, the Rights Restoration Amendment, be approved and not just because I worked so hard to get it on the ballot. Restoring the right to vote to over a million Florida residents could go a long way towards turning Florida into a reliably blue state. And even if it does not accomplish that, it is still the right thing to do for people who have paid their debt to society. Rather than confuse voters by trying to explain that they should vote yes on some amendments and no on others, I think it is a much better idea to make the slogan for the constitutional amendments on the 2018 Ballot: “YES ON 4 AND NO MORE!”
And remember that for proposed amendments that you are against, you must vote NO and not just leave that question blank!