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Understanding the Amendments

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2018 3:00 am

It is likely that many voters are not fully aware of several issues on the ballot; most of which are as equally important as choosing a candidate in the several local and state races. Those issues appear at the end of a lengthy ballot and address amendments to the Florida Constitution and the Miami-Dade County Charter.

There are 12 proposed Amendments to the Florida Constitution. A few are straightforward, but most contain numerous and sometimes unrelated issues. Amendments 1, 2 and 5 were placed by the Florida Legislature, while 3 and 4 earned consideration through a petition drive. Items 6 – 13 were approved by the 37 unelected members of the Constitutional Revision Commission, all of whom except one member were appointed by Governor Scott, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and the President of the Florida Senate. The final member of that Committee was Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Most of the Amendments placed by the Constitutional Review Committee contain more than one issue and most are unrelated, but if passed, approval is as to all issues within the proposed Amendment. The Miami-Dade Charter Amendments on their face seem non-controversial but contain significant changes. Here is a look at the issues you will find at the end of your ballot:

Amendments 1 and 2: Real Property Tax Exemptions and Limitations

These related proposals, placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature, if adopted, would provide for an exemption from real property taxes (except school board) on the assessed value of homestead exempt property between $100,000.00 and $125,000.00. (Amendment 1) and limit the annual assessment increases on all other real property to ten percent per year (Amendment 2). The City of Homestead estimates a negative budget impact at $600,000.00 from Amendment 1.

Amendment 3 – Statewide Approval for new gambling operations

There are currently rules in effect to provide for local approval of new gambling facilities. The effect of Amendment 3 would require a statewide vote to approve any new gambling facility. Based on prior statewide results, no new approvals would be granted resulting in those gaming facilities now in operation being constitutionally protected from competition. Local approval rules would remain in effect if this proposal fails.

Amendment 4 – Voting Rights

Currently, convicted felons must complete their sentence and probation or parole and then wait five years to apply for restoration of voting rights. Amendment 3 would remove the five year waiting period and permanently bar those convicted of murder and sexual offenses from the right to vote.

Amendment 5 – Creation or Increase in State Fees and Taxes

If adopted, this amendment would require a super majority vote of the Florida legislature to create any new fees or taxes or increase those in existence. This does not apply to real property taxes as those rates are set by local government. Approval of the measure would only apply to taxes (such as income and sales tax) and fees (such as court filing fees and automobile registration) controlled by the legislature.

Amendment 6 – Criminal Victims Bill of Rights

This issue proposes to create a constitutional right in favor of crime victims to be notified of all proceedings with respect to any plea deal, trial, sentencing, release or parole and requires all criminal cases to be resolved within two years. Additional provisions also extend the required retirement age for judges from age 70 to 75.

Amendment 7 – First Responder Benefits and College/University Fees and Tuition

In the event of the on-duty death of any Florida resident policeman, fireman, EMT, corrections officer, member of the Florida National Guard or active duty military member, the State will pay a death benefit (in an amount yet to be determined) and provides for a waiver of college fees and tuition to their surviving spouse and children. The circumstances of the death are that it occurs on-duty and does not limit it being due to the “bad acts” of others.

This Amendment also requires a super majority vote of the governing authorities to raise college fees. It also places community colleges in the same state system as that of major universities.

Amendment 9 – Offshore Drilling and Public Vaping

If adopted, this matter would forever prohibit exploration for and removal of oil or gas from the shoreline to the offshore territorial limits of Florida. This proposal would also prohibit vaping in the same locations where cigarettes and tobacco use are not permitted.

Amendment 10 – Multiple Issues

Amendment 10 contains four unrelated issues: Requires all counties to elect sheriffs, property appraisers, tax collectors, supervisor of election and clerk of court. This is a very narrow and targeted issue as only Miami-Dade and Volusia Counties do not currently elect a sheriff.  Creates a Florida Department of Veteran Affairs. Requires the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to create an office for domestic security and counterterrorism.

Alternates the starting dates for the annual legislative session and prohibits the legislature from adjusting those dates.

Amendment 11 – “Clean Up” language

While this Amendment is portrayed as a simple “clean up” provision to remove obsolete language in the Florida constitution, it also provides that a criminal offender may be sentenced under guidelines or statutes not in effect at the time of the crime.

Amendment 12 – Lobbying Rules

State statutes and local laws currently provide rules against lobbying by former officials. If adopted, Amendment 12 would supersede local law and prohibits any elected officials, certain state employees and judges from lobbying for six years after leaving office.

Amendment 13

Greyhound dog racing will be prohibited beginning in 2020 if this proposal is adopted.

County Charter Amendments

1. Proposes to make the election of County Clerk non-partisan. Currently, all other elected county offices are determined on a nonpartisan basis.

2. If adopted, this would allow county employees, including police officers, fire fighters and teachers to run for state and local office and retain that job while holding office.

3. This proposal would require a citizens petition drive to be ruled upon as a legal issue prior to a group circulating a petition.

4. This is a “clean up” proposal to address the event of a deceased, unopposed or withdrawn candidate in a county campaign.

5. If adopted, the measure would prohibit payment on a per signature basis to those hired to circulate petitions.

6. Requests countywide approval for the creation of a new city in Northeast Miami-Dade. This does not create the city but allows the process of incorporation to go forward if those in the area desire to create the new city.

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Welcome to the discussion.

1 comment:

  • Seth Furrow posted at 10:27 am on Sat, Nov 3, 2018.

    Seth Furrow Posts: 2

    Ballot issues should be resolved before the elections otherwise people will face problem in casting their votes. I appreciate the uk essay service who has raised this issue and try to resolve it for the public ease.