2018 Florida Constitutional Amendments

Posted By: Robert Griffiths (deleted) Advocacy News ,

Twelve proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution are on the General Election ballot, eight more than appeared on the 2016 ballot. Note: 13 amendments were on the ballot – Amendment 8 was struck from the ballot by the Florida Supreme Court.

Voters face more questions than is apparent. That’s because Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years, is allowed by law to bundle more than one issue into each question. An example of the CRC’s issue bundling in 2018 is Amendment 9, which asks voters to decide whether to ban offshore oil drilling, and whether to ban e cigarettes at workplaces. Like the CRC’s other bundled amendments, voters cannot cast separate votes on drilling and vaping. These are all or nothing propositions.

Of the 12 amendments on this year’s ballot, seven were proposed by the CRC, three by the Florida Legislature and two by citizen initiative. To pass, each of them must receive at least 60 percent approval by voters. Unless otherwise indicated, changes to the Constitution take effect on Jan. 8, 2019.

Below are brief summaries of each amendment for your review prior to Election Day on November 6th. For more in depth conversation about the proposed amendments, you might want to go to the following web-sites for different opinions on the pros and cons of the impact of a yes or no vote on these important issues.

Please take the time to understand what you are voting for when you cast your vote. We all will have to live with these decisions for a long time and with high stakes costs that will impact future generations.

No. 1 Constitutional Amendment Article VII, Section 6 Article XII, Section 37 INCREASED HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to increase the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed valuation of homestead property greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000 for all levies other than school district levies. The amendment shall take effect January 1, 2019.

No. 2 Constitutional Amendment Article XII, Section 27 LIMITATIONS ON PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to permanently retain provisions currently in effect, which limit property tax assessment increases on specified non-homestead real property, except for school district taxes, to 10 percent each year. If approved, the amendment removes the scheduled repeal of such provisions in 2019 and shall take effect January 1, 2019.

No. 3 Constitutional Amendment Article X, Section 29 VOTER CONTROL OF GAMBLING IN FLORIDA This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/tribal compacts. The amendment’s impact on state and local government revenues and costs, if any, cannot be determined at this time because of its unknown effect on gambling operations that have not been approved by voters through a constitutional amendment proposed by a citizens’ initiative petition process.

No. 4 Constitutional Amendment Article VI, Section 4 VOTING RESTORATION AMENDMENT This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or 11 • October 2018 • Bayline sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis. The precise effect of this amendment on state and local government costs cannot be determined, but the operation of current voter registration laws, combined with an increased number of felons registering to vote, will produce higher overall costs relative to the processes in place today. The impact, if any, on state and local government revenues cannot be determined. The fiscal impact of any future legislation that implements a different process cannot be reasonably determined.

No. 5 Constitutional Amendment Article VII, Section 19 SUPERMAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED TO IMPOSE, AUTHORIZE, OR RAISE STATE TAXES OR FEES Prohibits the legislature from imposing, authorizing, or raising a state tax or fee except through legislation approved by a two thirds vote of each house of the legislature in a bill containing no other subject. This proposal does not authorize a state tax or fee otherwise prohibited by the Constitution and does not apply to fees or taxes imposed or authorized to be imposed by a county, municipality, school board, or special district.

No. 6 Constitutional Revision Article I, Section 16 Article V, Sections 8 and 21 Article XII, New Section RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS; JUDGES Creates constitutional rights for victims of crime; requires courts to facilitate victims’ rights; authorizes victims to enforce their rights throughout criminal and juvenile justice processes. Requires judges and hearing officers to independently interpret statutes and rules rather than deferring to government agency’s interpretation. Raises mandatory retirement age of state justices and judges from seventy to seventy five years; deletes authorization to complete judicial term if one half of term has been served by retirement age.

No. 7 Constitutional Revision Article IX, Sections 7 and 8 Article X, New Section FIRST RESPONDER AND MILITARY MEMBER SURVIVOR BENEFITS; PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES Grants mandatory payment of death benefits and waiver of certain educational expenses to qualifying survivors of certain first responders and military members who die performing official duties. Requires supermajority votes by university trustees and state university system board of governors to raise or impose all legislatively authorized fees if law requires approval by those bodies. Establishes existing state college system as constitutional entity; provides governance structure.

No. 9 Constitutional Revision Article II, Section 7 Article X, Section 20 PROHIBITS OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS DRILLING; PROHIBITS VAPING IN ENCLOSED INDOOR WORKPLACES Prohibits drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state owned waters between the mean high water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. Adds use of vapor generating electronic devices to current prohibition of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions; permits more restrictive local vapor ordinances.

No. 10 Constitutional Revision Article III, Section 3 Article IV, Sections 4 and 11 Article VIII, Sections 1 and 6 STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND OPERATION Requires legislature to retain department of veterans’ affairs. Ensures election of sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors, and clerks of court in all counties; removes county charters’ ability to abolish, change term, transfer duties, or eliminate election of these offices. Changes annual legislative session commencement date in even numbered years from March to January; removes legislature’s authorization to fix another date. Creates office of domestic security and counter terrorism within department of law enforcement.

No. 11 Constitutional Revision Article I, Section 2 Article X, Sections 9 and 19 PROPERTY RIGHTS; REMOVAL OF OBSOLETE PROVISION; CRIMINAL STATUTES Removes discriminatory language related to real property rights. Removes obsolete language repealed by voters. Deletes provision that amendment of a criminal statute will not affect prosecution or penalties for a crime committed before the amendment; retains current provision allowing prosecution of a crime committed before the repeal of a criminal statute.

No. 12 Constitutional Revision Article II, Section 8 Article V, Section 13 Article XII, New Section LOBBYING AND ABUSE OF OFFICE BY PUBLIC OFFICERS Expands current restrictions on lobbying for compensation by former public officers; creates restrictions on lobbying for compensation by serving public officers and former justices and judges; provides exceptions; prohibits abuse of a public position by public officers and employees to obtain a personal benefit. No. 13 Constitutional Revision Article X, New Section Article XII, New Section ENDS DOG RACING Phases out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities are not affected.