Constitutional Amendments Information

Constitutional Amendments Information

Posted by on Sep 28, 2018 in Featured

Positions of the League of Women Voters on the Constitutional Amendments on the November Ballot

Our board examined every amendment that voters will decide on and determined positions on each. We weighed already established League positions heavily in our decisions.

The Supreme Court has removed Amendment 8 from the November 2018 Ballot, upholding the decision by a lower court that Amendment 8 misled voters by not clearly stating its true purpose and never mentioning charter schools by name. The Court approved three other appealed amendments, 6, 10 and 13. They will stay on the ballot. 

Twelve proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution remain on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot, 8 more than appeared on the 2016 ballot.
However, 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. This practice, also known as “logrolling,” is prohibited when amendments are placed on the ballot by citizen initiative or by the Florida Legislature. Those amendments must contain just one distinct question.  To learn more about the 2017/18 CRC, click here.

In 1978, the first CRC proposed eight amendments, at least half of which had multiple questions. All were defeated by voters. Twenty years later, in 1998, the CRC proposed nine amendments, all of which had multiple questions. All but one passed.

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 13 amendments on this year’s ballot, eight 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. This is the first time that constitutional amendments proposed by a CRC have faced the 60-percent hurdle, which voters approved in 2006. Before then, amendments just needed a simple majority for approval. Unless otherwise indicated, changes to the Constitution take effect on Jan. 8, 2019.

Below are summaries of each amendment and the positions our state board has taken on them.  A link is provided for each amendment that includes an in-depth analysis of each amendment including what impact of a yes or no vote, organizations that support or oppose the amendment, and our League position.

Amendment 1

Grants an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for homes valued over $125,000. Owners of homes worth more than $100,000 would also receive an increase in their exemption.

Oppose. The League has a position that “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”

Learn more about Amendment 1

Amendment 3

Requires approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen-initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Legislature from making those gambling decisions by passing laws.

Support. It restricts casino gambling and allows Florida voters to make any decisions regarding increases of casino gambling, consistent with League position against gambling. This amendment is also supported by No Casinos, Inc. and Disney.

Learn more about Amendment 3

Amendment 5

Requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees, rather than a simple majority.

Oppose. This amendment does not include a provision that would allow for tax increases in times of emergencies (hurricane, floods, recession, etc.) and is an abrogation of the Legislature’s fiduciary responsibility to pass a reasonable budget.

Learn more about Amendment 5

Amendment 7

Creates a supermajority requirement for universities to impose new or increase existing student fees; enshrines in the Constitution guidelines for the State College System; mandates that employers or the state pay a death benefit to first responders and members of the military killed in the line of duty.

Oppose. We oppose a supermajority vote to increase fees or taxes. Family members of the military who die in the line of service are already compensated through the federal government.

Learn more about Amendment 7

Amendment 9

Prohibits oil drilling beneath waters controlled by Florida; prohibits the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, at indoor workplaces.

Support. Our concern for the environment overrides our concern about putting vaping in the Constitution. We also believe that if this amendment doesn’t pass, it sends a signal to the federal government that Florida does not care about off-shore drilling.

Learn more about Amendment 9

Amendment 11

Repeals the state’s ability to prohibit non-citizens from buying, owning and selling property; deletes a provision that forces the state to prosecute criminal suspects under the law they were originally charged under, even if the Legislature changes that law; deletes obsolete language having to do with high-speed rail in Florida.

No position. Although we think that removing obsolete language is a good thing, there is a lot of other obsolete language that is not being addressed. Although the first issue regarding the ability of non-citizens to purchase and sell property cannot be enforced, the provision that requires criminal suspects to be prosecuted for an obsolete law should be changed.

Learn more about Amendment 11

Amendment 13

Bans wagering on any type of dog racing, notably greyhounds, as of Dec. 31, 2020, while continuing to allow dog tracks to continue offering other types of gambling, including poker rooms.

Support. This is primarily a gambling issue, and the League has held a consistent position against gambling.

Learn more about Amendment 13

Amendment 2

Makes permanent what currently is a temporary cap of 10 percent on annual property value increases for vacation homes, apartments and commercial property, effectively limiting increases on tax bills.

Oppose. The League has a position that “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”

Learn more about Amendment 2

Amendment 4

Would restore the eligibility to vote to persons with felony convictions who have completed their sentences.

Support. The League was one of the sponsors of this initiative. Florida is one of only four states that permanently bars felons from voting after their sentences are completed. This restriction on voting is a vestige of Florida’s post-Civil War Constitution. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Learn more about Amendment 4

Amendment 6

Vastly expands the scope of victims rights under the state Constitution; increases the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75; forces courts and judges to interpret laws and rules for themselves rather than rely on interpretations by government agencies.

Oppose. Victims’ rights are already protected in the Constitution, and this amendment would eliminate an existing provision that victims’ rights do not interfere with the constitutional rights of the accused.

Learn more about Amendment 6

Amendment 10

Requires the Legislature to hold its session in early January on even-numbered years; creates an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; mandates the existence of a state Department of Veterans’ Affairs; forces all counties to elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and Clerk of Circuit Court.

Oppose. This limits the voters in local communities from deciding on the election of county officers. It adds an unnecessary provision as the Constitution already has the power to set dates during even numbered years. FDLE is already the lead agency in coordinating efforts to prevent terrorism, and the Constitution already has authorized the Legislature to create a Department of Veteran Affairs. This amendment is clearly an effort to restrict the powers of local government.

Learn more about Amendment 10

Amendment 12

Expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees, notably by expanding from two to six years the time that many officials would have to wait before they could lobby state government.

No position. Although there is need for lobbying reform, we felt that six years might be onerous, and this amendment does not address the real issue regarding lobbying, which is the impact of money in political campaigns.