By ROCCO MAGLIO
There are 13 Constitutional Amendments on the ballot for the Nov. 6 General Election.
AMENDMENT1: Homestead Exemption Increase
The Florida Constitution currently has an exemption on a portion of the assessed value of homesteaded properties. At the moment, the exemption applies to the portion of a home’s assessed value between $0 and $25,000 and $50,000 and $75,000. So, if your home’s assessed value is $75,000 or $200,000, the maximum homestead exemption under current law is $50,000 for either home. This amendment would provide an additional homestead exemption on the portion of a home’s assessed value between $100,000 and $125,000. This raises the maximum homestead exemption to $75,000. This exemption only excludes the school district levies and would go into effect for 2019 tax levies.
This amendment would lower taxes for homesteaded properties worth more than $100,000 by up to an additional $25,000. It was estimated to lower taxes by $644.7 million per year. This means that counties and special districts in Florida would have their revenue reduced by that amount, so many municipalities have been outspoken against Amendment 1.
AMENDMENT 2: Permanent Cap on Non-homestead Parcel Assessment Increases
At present, the Florida Constitution sets the maximum property tax assessment increases to 10 percent a year for non-homesteaded property. The current 10 percent cap will expire on January 1, 2019. Amendment 2 makes the 10 percent cap on property taxes for non-homesteaded properties permanent. The non-homesteaded properties the measure applies to includes: second homes, rental apartments and nonresidential property, such as commercial property and vacant land. The cap does not apply to school district taxes.
This amendment makes permanent the limit on the property tax increases on non-homesteaded properties. The homesteaded properties already have a limit set for tax increases.
AMENDMENT 3: Voter Approval of Casino
Amendment 3 would only allow voters the right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the state of Florida. If passed, the Florida Legislature would not be allowed to authorize casino gambling through statute or through referring a constitutional amendment to the ballot. The measure defines “casino gambling” as card games, casino games and slot machines. Pari-mutuel wagering on horse racing, dog racing or jai alai exhibitions is not included in the measure’s definition of casino gambling. The measure would not impact casino gambling on Native American tribal lands established through state-tribe compacts.
This amendment will make it more difficult to allow casino gambling (card games, casino games and slot machines). This means that casino gambling will most likely only be available on Seminole/Miccosukee lands.
Restoration for Felons’ Voting Rights
Currently, the law requires individuals with prior felonies to go before a state board to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis. Amendment 4 would automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions upon completion of their sentences unless the conviction was for murder or a felony sexual offense. Sentences include prison, parole and probation.
This amendment would automatically restore voting rights to felons on completion of their sentences. Currently the process to restore voting rights for felons is not clear and it is difficult the know whether voting rights will be restored. A felon must petition for their rights to be restored and the criteria for restoring rights is not clear.
AMENDMENT 5: Two-Thirds Vote of
Legislature to Increase Taxes or Fees
Restricts the Florida Legislature from passing new taxes, fees, and increase existing taxes and fees via a simple majority vote in each chamber (except the corporate income tax). It additionally limits the Florida Legislature from passing new taxes, fees, and increase existing taxes and fees via multi-subject bills. This amendment would limit the the legislature by requiring a two-thirds vote in each chamber to pass a new tax, fee, and increase an existing tax or fee. The amendment requires that bills enacting a new tax, fee, or increases or existing taxes or fees to only contain a single subject. This requirement would not apply to county, municipality, school board or special districts.
This would limit what the Florida Legislature can do in relation to fees and taxes. By requiring a two-thirds majority in each chamber to pass a new tax, fee, and increase a tax or fee this will greatly reduce the Florida Legislature’s ability to raise taxes.
AMENDMENT 6: Marsy’s Law Crime Victim Rights, Judicial Retirement Age and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules
This amendment would provide crime victims, their families and their lawful representatives with a series of rights. These rights extended to victims of crimes and their families include a right to due process; a right to be treated with fairness and respect; freedom from intimidation, harassment and abuse; a right to be protected, within reason, from the accused and persons acting on behalf of the accused; a right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay; and more. Additionally, this amendment will raise the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 years of age and prohibit state courts from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a state statute or rule in a lawsuit.
AMENDMENT 7: Florida First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits, Supermajority Board Votes for College Fees and State College System
Amendment 7 requires that the employers of first responders provide a survivor benefit to all first responders who died while on official duty. The surviving spouses of Military service members will be provided a benefit if the member is accidentally, unlawfully or intentionally killed by the state. Additionally, the state would have to waive some of the educational expenses for the surviving children and spouses. The amendment would also require a supermajority vote by both the University’s board of trustees and the state board of governors to raise the college fees.
AMENDMENT 8: School Board Term Limits, Allow State to Operate Non-Board Established Schools and Civic Literacy
*** AMENDMENT 8 was removed by the Florida Supreme Court ***
AMENDMENT 9: Florida Ban on Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces
Amendment 9 would ban offshore oil and gas drilling in the states territorial waters. It would also ban vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces. It would have exceptions for private residences that are not being used for commercial childcare, adult care or health care; for retail tobacco and vapor-generating device shops; for designed smoking guest rooms in hotels; and in stand-alone bars.
AMENDMENT 10: Florida State and Local Government Structure and Operation
Amendment 10 changes state and local government structure and operation. This amendment would add a couple of state offices to the constitution including the State Department of Veteran Affairs and a State Office of Domestic Security and Counter Terrorism. The amendment would also require several local county offices: sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and clerk of circuit court to be elected offices. Currently the county charter or a special law can be used to provide different options for filling these offices.
AMENDMENT 11: Repeal Prohibition on Aliens’ Property Ownership, Delete Obsolete Provision on High Speed Rail
Amendment 11 would remove language that states: “… ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law.” The amendment would also remove the high-speed rail provision that was repealed by voters. It would also remove a restriction on the application of changes in criminal laws to crimes that happened in the past.
AMENDMENT 12: Lobbying Restrictions for Elected Officials
Amendment 12 would prohibit elected municipal officials, judges, statewide elected officers, legislators, county commissioners, county officers, school board members, school superintendents, special district officers with ad valorem taxing authority and state agency heads from being paid to lobby while in office and for six years following their term of office. The legislation does not define what is meant “lobby,” it directs the legislature to define the term. The lobbying restriction would go into effect December 31, 2022.
Amendment 13: Prohibit Dog Racing in Florida.
Amendment 13 would prohibit commercial dog racing in Florida. Currently, dog tracks have to run dog races in order to retain their license, which lets them also operate card games and slot machines. This law would grandfather in dog tracks’ ability to operate card games and slot machines. The prohibition would go into effect in 2020.