A Guide to the November Ballot Amendments
This November’s ballot will be longer than usual due to the recent Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC). Florida is unique when it comes to the ability to revise our state constitution. The Florida Constitution can be amended in five ways which is more than most states. We can revise our framework document by a three-fifths vote of the legislature, taxation and budget reform commission which meets every 20 years by appointed members, a constitutional convention, a citizen ballot initiative, and by the Constitutional Revision Commission which met over the past year.
The Constitutional Revision Commission is comprised of Floridians appointed by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and the Supreme Court. The last time the CRC met was in 1997. Floridians will have 12 Constitutional amendments to decide on. 8 of the amendments came from the CRC. The next time the CRC will meet will be in 2037.
The constitution should be used as the framework of government, it is important that we as Floridians not only know what these amendments will do but also look at the bigger picture and future implications so we can make informed decisions this November. Hopefully, this guide can help.
This is not a guide on telling you how to vote, but a simple explanation of what each amendment would do if it is enacted by 60% of voters or not enacted at all.
Note: Amendment 8 was taken off the ballot due to a court order.
Amendment 1 is another homestead exemption that was initiated by the Florida Legislature.
- A YES vote would exempt home values between $100,000 and $125,000. Public schools tax levies are exempt from this homestead exemption.
- A NO vote would keep the homestead levels the same.
Amendment 2 also deals with property taxes. In Florida, there is a cap on property tax increases of 10%. The current cap is set to expire on January 1st, 2019.
- A YES vote on Amendment 2 would repeal the expiration date and keep the 10% cap. No matter how much a property value increases, property taxes would only be allowed to be increased 10% maximum.
- A NO vote would allow the cap to expire.
Amendment 3 is the first citizen initiative that was placed on this year’s ballot and relates to the control of gambling in Florida.
- A YES vote would give Floridians a vote on whether to allow casino gambling within Florida.
- A NO vote would keep casino gambling regulations controlled by the legislature.
Amendment 4 is the voter rights amendment. Amendment 4, one of the popular amendments, would restore the right to vote for most people who have committed a felony. Amendment 4 does not apply to people who have committed murder or a felony sexual offense.
- A YES vote would allow said Floridians to get their voting rights back.
- A NO vote would keep the current system in place for former felons to petition the state.
Amendment 5 is another legislative initiative which would require a supermajority vote of legislative members (which is two-thirds or 66%) to impose a rise in state taxes or fees.
- A YES vote would make sure that both houses have a two-thirds vote when it comes to tax and fee increases. This would allow for more members to have a final say instead of a simple majority.
- A NO vote would keep the vote requirement the same in the legislature.
Amendment 6 created by the CRC deals with criminal justice and judiciary issues.
- A YES vote would add rights for crime victims to the Florida Constitution, would allow the courts to interpret statutes instead of deferring to administrative agencies, and raise the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75.
- A NO vote would retain the status quo on constitutional rights of crime victims, allow judges to continue to defer to administrative agencies, and keep the retirement age for judges at 70.
Amendment 7 created by the CRC relates to spouses of first responders and higher education.
- A YES vote would provide mandatory death benefits to the surviving spouse of a qualified first responder and military personnel who die in the line of duty, require a supermajority vote for a board of trustee to raise college tuition and fees, and also make the state college and university systems a constitutional entity.
- A NO vote would not provide death benefits, would keep a simple majority to raise tuition and fees, and does not make state college and university systems a constitutional entity.
Amendment 9 created by the CRC deals with offshore oil and gas drilling and Vaping in indoor workplaces
- A YES vote would prohibit offshore drilling, exploration, and extraction of natural gas and oil and also ban vaping at enclosed workplaces.
- A NO vote would not add language for these two items.
Amendment 10 created by the CRC deals with the structure of local and state government.
- A YES vote would require the legislature to provide for a Department of Veterans Affairs, constitutionally require the creation of the office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism, would require the legislature to meet in January instead of March in even years, and would remove county charter abilities from abolishing certain offices and require elections for those offices including Sheriffs, Property Appraises, Tax Collector, Supervisor of Elections, and Clerk of Courts.
- A NO vote wouldn’t create said agencies, would not change the legislature’s time to meet in even years, and would not affect county charters.
Amendment 11 was also created by the CRC and is related to miscellaneous items.
- A YES vote would repeal a provision in the constitution that prohibits foreign-born people who are not eligible for citizenship to owning property in Florida, remove the obsolete high-speed rail language, and also repeals a criminal statute and its prosecution. *
- A NO vote would keep all the above items in the constitution.
Amendment 12 deals with public officials and lobbying. This amendment was also created by the CRC
- A YES vote would prevent public officers from lobbying for compensation during their terms and six years after.
- A NO vote would not create these restrictions.
Amendment 13 was proposed by the CRC to end dog racing in Florida.
- A YES vote would constitutionally prohibit the racing of and gambling of greyhounds and other dogs.
- A NO vote would not constitutionally prohibit.
*The criminal clause that would be deleted if Amendment 11 were to pass is known as the “savings clause.” This clause means that a repeal of a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of a crime committee before the repeal.