The 2018 Amendment Guide

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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This year’s ballot lists 12 potential amendments to the Florida Constitution. Only two of those were proposed by Florida’s citizens, including Amendment 4. It is the only amendment Equality Florida has taken a stance on, advising that the eligibility to vote is fundamental to democracy and that voting yes “is the first step in helping LGBTQ people with former convictions.”

For more information about 2018’s proposed amendments, read on below.

Amendment 1: Authorizes up to a $25,000 tax exemption for homes worth $100-125,000 and an additional $25,000 tax exemption for homes worth over $125,000.

Voting Yes allows homeowners to subtract up to $75,000 from the taxable value of their homes worth over $100,000.

Voting No maintains the maximum exemption at $50,000.

Amendment 2: Permanently caps the annual increase in non-homestead tax assessments increases at 10 percent per year.

Voting Yes permanently limits non-homestead property tax assessment increases to 10 percent annually.

Voting No allows the 10 percent cap on property tax increases to expire in 2019.

Amendment 3: Makes Florida voters responsible for authorizing or opting not to authorize casino gambling in the state.

Voting Yes gives Florida voters the exclusive ability to decide whether or not to authorize casino gambling. New casino gambling would only be allowed in Florida if voters approved it.

Voting No allows the State Legislature to maintain its power in regulating the expansion of casino gambling.

Amendment 4: Restores the right to vote to 1.7 million convicted felons in Florida who have completed their sentence, including parole and probation, excluding those convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

Voting Yes will allow convicted felons to vote once they have completed their sentence, restricting voting capabilities of felons who are convicted of murder or a sexual offense. It is the only amendment Equality Florida has taken a stance on, advising that voting yes “is the first step in helping LGBTQ people with former convictions” and noting that the “eligibility to vote is fundamental to democracy and should not be taken away.”

Voting No maintains current restrictions on the ability for convicted felons to vote.

Amendment 5: Would ensure the State Legislature would require a supermajority (two-thirds of each house) to create or increase state taxes. This does not include county, municipal, school board or special district taxes.

Voting Yes prevents the state from increasing taxes without a supermajority in the state legislature.

Voting No would allow the state legislature to change a tax with a simple majority, or 51 percent of their vote.

Amendment 6: Expands the rights of victims of crime under the Florida Constitution, raises the judicial retirement age to 75 and prevents judges from using a state agency’s interpretation of the law instead of their own.

Voting Yes provides crime victims the right to due process; to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse; to have their welfare considered when setting bail. It also allows judges to retire at 75 rather than 70 and prohibits them from deferring to state agencies’ interpretations of rules or statutes.

Voting No maintains the current rights of crime victims, requires judges to retire at 70 and continues to allow them to defer to state agencies’ interpretations of rules or statues.

Amendment 7: Creates a supermajority requirement for universities to impose new or increase existing student fees excluding tuition, provides college tuition for survivors of first responders and military members killed on duty and establishes the state college system in the Florida Constitution.

Voting Yes requires university trustees to agree by a two-thirds majority to raise student fees excluding tuition, provides tuition for survivors of first responders and military members killed on duty and establishes a state college system in the Florida Constitution – requiring each state college to be governed by a local board of trustees appointed by the governor.

Voting No maintains current requirements for universities to impose fees, does not provide tuition for survivors of first responders and military members killed on duty and does not enshrine the state college system in the Florida Constitution.

Amendment 8: Removed from the ballot.

Amendment 9: Bans offshore oil drilling oil and gas drilling, as well as bans vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces.

Voting Yes bans offshore drilling for oil and natural gas on lands beneath all state waters and bans the use of vapor-generating electronic devices like e-cigarettes in enclosed indoor workspaces.

Voting No does not ban offshore drilling for oil and natural gas on lands beneath all state waters and does not ban the use of vapor-generating electronic devices like e-cigarettes in enclosed indoor workspaces.

Amendment 10: Requires Florida’s legislative session to begin in January on even-numbered years, mandates the creation of a counterterrorism office, establishes a state veterans’ affairs department and requires that counties elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and clerk of circuit court.

Voting Yes requires the state’s legislative session to begin in January in even-numbered years, creates a counterterrorism office in the Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement and mandates that all counties elect various county officials.

Voting No allows the legislature to set its start date and allows charter counties to continue to decide to elect certain offices.

Amendment 11: Removes constitutional language that prohibits “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning property, removes language authorizing a high-speed rail system repealed by voters and revises language to advise that the repeal of a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of any crime committed before the repeal.

Voting Yes removes constitutional language prohibiting “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning property, language authorizing a high-speed rail system that was repealed by voters and revises language that the repeal of a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of a crime committed before the repeal.

Voting No maintains current constitutional language prohibiting “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning property, authorizing a high-speed rail system repealed by voters and does not revise language to advise that the repeal of a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of any crime committed before the repeal.

Amendment 12: Expands current restrictions on lobbying by former public officers, creates restrictions for currently serving public officers and prohibits certain abuses of public office for personal benefit.

Voting Yes stops elected officials at the state to municipal level, as well as agency heads, from lobbying during their terms and the subsequent six years, also preventing them from using their offices for personal gain.

Voting No allows elected officials to lobby for specific groups two years after they leave office and allows executive branch agency heads and county officials to lobby while in office and immediately after holding office.

Amendment 13: Phases out all commercial dog racing by 2020; making it illegal to bet on Greyhound or dog races.

Voting Yes abolishes dog racing where gambling is involved.

Voting No allows dog racing and betting on those races to remain legal.

To read Watermark’s full coverage about the equality-focused organizations, candidates and voters hoping to turn the tide Nov. 6, click here.

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