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Your Guide to the 11 Proposed Constitutional Amendments on the Nov. 6 Ballot

| October 26, 2012

State Senator Frank Mann (D – Ft. Myers), was a dark-horse candidate for governor in when he campaigned, on horseback, in the mid-80s. Bob Martinez eventually won that contest. The state Legislature, in the distance, is responsible for this year’s 11 proposed constitutional amendments. (Florida State Archives)

The November 6 ballot (see a sample here) is long–not because of electoral contests, which are not unusually numerous, but because of the Florida Legislature’s decision to load up the ballot with 11 proposed constitutional amendments. And to do so without summarizing the amendments, as Florida law requires. The Legislature exempted itself from the requirement.

“So,” recommends County Attorney Al Hadeed, “definitely, definitely, you, and you tell your friends, the people you care about, you tell them, exercise either early voting or absentee, or spend a lot of time researching, so on election day when they go, they’ll have some capability of being able to go through those issues and decide.”

In other words, don’t learn about those proposed amendments the moment you walk into the voting booth. It could take you up to half an hour to read through them.

So here’s a synopsis of each amendment. The amendments must receive at least 60 percent of the vote to pass. There is no Amendment 7.

AMENDMENT 1, HEALTH CARE SERVICES

THE AMENDMENT: This amendment is aimed at prohibiting the government from directly or indirectly compelling employers to buy or provide health care coverage for their employees. It also makes clear in the constitution that people may pay health care providers directly for care – and don’t have to have insurance, and can’t be forced to pay a penalty or tax for paying out of pocket for health care.

CONTEXT: Opponents say the proposal would have no effect at nullifying its intended target, the federal health care individual mandate, because of the supremacy of federal law over state law. Backers say it would prevent future attempts to put similar health care requirements on residents.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 2: HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR VETERANS

2012 Election Interviews and Backgrounders

County Judge


Craig Atack
Melissa Moore-Stens

U.S. Congress, Dist. 6


The Ron DeSantis-Heather Beaven Debate: Little Substance, Many Lies and Inventions

Flagler County Commission


George Hanns
Herb Whitaker
Frank Meeker
Abby Romaine

Flagler County Sheriff


Don Fleming (R)
Jim Manfre (D)

The Constitutional Amendments


THE AMENDMENT: The proposal would provide an additional homestead exemption to wounded veterans who were not residents of the state when they entered military service. The proposal would exempt from taxation a property’s value between $50,000 and $75,000.

CONTEXT: Florida law already provides an additional homestead exemption to military personnel disabled while in combat. The amendment simply expands the exemption to disabled veterans who may have been residents of other states when the disability occurred but who now reside in Florida.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 3: REVENUE LIMITATION

THE AMENDMENT: Proposed Amendment 3 would replace the existing state revenue cap, which is based on personal income growth in Florida with a new one based on inflation and population changes. If the state were to collect more in taxes than the formula allows, it would have to be put into a reserve fund, and not spent, and at some point would have to be used for reducing local property taxes for schools or returned to taxpayers. The cap could be raised only with a super majority vote in the Legislature.

CONTEXT: The state has never actually hit the current cap.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 4: PROPERTY TAX RESTRICTIONS

THE AMENDMENT: The proposal would reduce the cap on tax assessment increases from 10 percent to 5 percent a year on commercial property. The plan also would provide an additional, temporary property tax break for first-time homebuyers and prevents tax assessments from going up when the market value of the property goes down.

CONTEXT: Backers say the amendment will continue efforts to rein in the increase in property taxes by expanding protections now afforded to homeowners. Opponents, including the Florida Association of Counties, say the measure will further hamstring cash-strapped local governments, which rely on property tax revenue for the bulk of their funding.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 5: RULES FOR STATE COURTS

THE AMENDMENT: Proposed Amendment 5 would require Senate confirmation for state Supreme Court justices appointed by the governor make it easier for lawmakers to influence court procedural rules, allowing them to change them with a simple majority vote, rather than a super majority. The proposal also would give lawmakers more access to confidential files involving judges accused of misconduct.

CONTEXT: Many lawyers and judges who oppose the amendment say lawmakers are trying to assert more control over a judiciary that many Republican legislators think has surpassed its own authority too often.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 6: ABORTION RIGHTS AND FUNDING:

THE AMENDMENT: The proposal exempts abortion-related matters from protection under Florida’s Constitutional privacy clause, saying that the state constitution can provide only as much protection as the U.S. Constitution when it comes to abortion. The proposal also prohibits the use of state taxpayer funds to pay for abortions or insurance that covers abortions except in the case of rape, incest and when the health of the mother is in danger.

CONTEXT: Efforts by the state Legislature in recent years to place further restrictions on abortions have been overturned by the courts, which cite the Florida Constitution’s privacy clause. It was used, in particular, to nullify the state laws that required notice of parents before a minor gets an abortion, and consent of parents in the same situation. The constitution was subsequently changed to allow for parental notice – and those who oppose abortion rights say this would allow a new parental consent law. Supporters say the state should not provide protections beyond those afforded women under the U.S. Constitution, which contains no privacy clause. Critics say the proposal would affect more than abortion and strip away privacy clause protections for other issues surrounding women’s health and could be used as a precedent to whittle away other rights now protected under the state constitution’s privacy clause.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 8: RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

THE AMENDMENT: If the amendment is approved, the government would be barred from denying funding to organizations or institutions based on “religious identity or belief.” The proposal also deletes the current constitutional ban on using state money “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination, or in aid of any sectarian institution.”

CONTEXT: The amendment arises out of fears by backers of faith-based institutions, including prison ministries at the center of a court fight, that the current wording of the constitution could prevent state money from going to those groups. The issue is also embedded in the debate over school vouchers. While Florida’s main voucher program was rejected by the courts for other reasons, some backers of private religious schools fear students who attend them could be denied support because it could be deemed in aid of a sectarian institution.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 9: TAX RELIEF FOR SURVIVING SPOUSES OF MILITARY/RESPONDERS

THE AMENDMENT: The proposal would provide additional property tax exemptions for the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service connected causes or while on active duty. The exemption, which could equal the entire assessed value, would also extend such benefits to surviving spouses of first responders such as firefighters, paramedics, corrections and law enforcement officer.

CONTEXT: The proposal – one of several aimed at recognizing the contributions made and risks taken by military personnel and first responders – had no public opposition. State economists said the proposal’s financial impact would be minimal, but it would reduce local tax collections.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 10: RAISING TANGIBLE TAX EXEMPTION

THE AMENDMENT: Amendment 10, if approved, would increase the exemption on tangible personal property from $25,000 to $50,000.

CONTEXT: The proposal has the backing of small business groups, which say the tax is an unnecessary burden on small business owners. State economists say the proposal, if enacted would reduce local tax collections by at least $21 million a year beginning in 2013.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 11: HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR SENIORS

THE AMENDMENT: If approved, it would authorize counties and municipalities to offer additional tax exemptions on homes of low-income seniors.

CONTEXT: Supporters say the amendment provide assistance to elderly residents on fixed incomes and might help them meet their medical bills, though the additional savings from it would be small. Opponents say that the measure would further erode local governments’ ability to raise revenue.

See Also:

AMENDMENT 12: BOARD OF GOVERNOR’S STUDENT MEMBER

THE AMENDMENT: The proposal would change the way the student member of the State University System’s Board of Governors is chosen. The new student member would be the chairperson of the Council of Student Body Presidents and not the president of the Florida Student Association. The proposal also requires that all universities be part of the council of student body presidents.

CONTEXT: Backers say the current system discriminates against state universities that are not part of the Florida Student Association.

See Also:

–FlaglerLive and the News Service of Florida

Sample Ballot, 2012 election

Flagler County Voting Flier, 2012 Elections

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4 Responses for “Your Guide to the 11 Proposed Constitutional Amendments on the Nov. 6 Ballot”

  1. Sad Times says:

    Thank you for providing this service…. but, I wish that you had provided this information much earlier… as I have already sent in my absentee ballot. It does not make sense to wait to the 11th hour to provide this service… voters need a bit of time to digest the legalese of these amendments.

       2 likes

  2. Lonewolf says:

    All of these amendments are either extreme right wing garbage or special interest legislation VOTE NO on ALL

       8 likes

  3. Umm says:

    Vote YES on 2 and 9!!

       0 likes

  4. confidential says:

    No across the board! The majority party in Tallahassee doesn’t need more hachets than currently have…

    These two pages ballots will only create headaches for the poll workers in election day with accu-vote computers that were only designed to count one page, 2 sides ballot per voter and not 2 pages ballot 4 sides per voter. Taking in consideration that probably many voters will decide not to vote the long amendments, to avoid spending 30 minutes or more reading them in the second page. Then if not voted that second page will not to be counted by the ballot box accu vote computer..
    Poll workers and SOE will have to relay only on the register books for ballot accurate counting!

       1 likes

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