Ballot Amendments & Local Bond Issues

The following recommendations were voted on by the General Membership of the Pasco Democratic Party on September 10, 2018.  This is an unusually large number of complex issues placed before voters.  We hope that every registered voter will take the time to learn about the Amendments and Bond Issues before making an educated decision in the voting booth or when completing a VOTE BY MAIL ballot at home.

The 12 Constitutional Amendments on the 2018 General Ballot (there originally were 13 until Amendment 8 was removed by the Florida Supreme Court for being “misleading”) are the most since 1998, when the state’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) — which meets once every 20 years — put 9 of 13 amendments on the ballot. The Constitution Revision Commission convened this year and placed eight amendments on the ballot.

In some cases, measures have been grouped together, meaning voters will have to choose TO APPROVE or TO REJECT disparate proposals that have been linked in one amendment.  The CRC is allowed by law to bundle more than one issue into each question.  This “bundling” 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, as is the case in Amendments #3 and #4.

To learn more about the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commission, click here.

An example of the CRC’s “issue bundling” in 2018 is Amendment 9.  It asks voters to decide whether to ban offshore oil drilling AND whether to ban e-cigarettes at workplaces, clearly two disparate proposals linked in one amendment.  Like the CRC’s other bundled amendments, voters cannot cast separate votes on drilling and vaping.  These are all-or-nothing propositions.

For an amendment to be approved, it 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% Rule” 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.

Here is a list of the amendments with brief summaries and the positions we have taken on them.  Please note that our recommendations are shared by Hillsborough/Pasco League of Women Voters, as well as the Democratic Progressive Caucus of FloridaThe full text for Amendments is available here
The Bob Graham Center at the University of Florida has produced a series of “Explainer Videos” on the constitutional amendments that are helpful.  The link to them is available here. 

2018 Ballot Amendments:  YES ON #3, #4, #9 and #13

2018 Bonds:  No Position on Jail Expansion
YES on Libraries, YES on Parks and YES on Fire Stations

#1   =   NO     Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption:  This increases the amount of a home’s value exempted from property tax.  It will force local governments to cut public services or raise local taxes to make up for the lost revenue.

#2   =   NO     Limitations on Property Tax Assessments:  This makes the cap on non-homestead (second homes and commercial) property assessment increases permanent.  It will continue to limit resources available for public services.

#3   =   YES     Voter Control of Gambling in Florida:  This requires voter approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen-initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Florida Legislature from making gambling decisions by simply passing laws and returning that authority to voters.

#4   =   YES     Voting Restoration Amendment:  This restores the eligibility to vote for most people with felony convictions who have completed their sentences (excludes murder and felony sex offenses), paid any fines and/or restitution, and completed their parole or probation.  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 and is considered a method of voter suppression.  Everyone deserves a second chance, especially the 1.5 million Floridians who have earned back the right to vote after paying their debt to society.

#5   =   NO     Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees:  This requires two-thirds vote of the Florida Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees rather than a simple majority.  It will tie the hands of future legislatures, making it nearly impossible to address budget needs, such as teacher raises and it does not include a provision that would allow for tax increases in times of emergencies (hurricane, floods, recession, etc.).

#6   =   NO     Rights of Crime Victims:  This vastly expands the scope of victims’ rights under the Florida Constitution by adding a “Marsy’s Law” AND increases the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75 AND forces courts and judges to interpret laws and rules for themselves rather than rely on interpretations by government agencies.  Victims’ rights are already protected in the Constitution and this amendment would eliminate an existing provision that protects the rights of the accused.

#7   =   NO     First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities:  This requires that employers or the state pay a death benefit to first responders and members of the military killed in the line of duty AND creates a supermajority vote requirement for universities to impose new or increase existing student fees AND enshrines guidelines for the State College System into the Florida Constitution.  Family members of the military who die in the line of service are already compensated through the federal government.  Also, a supermajority vote to increase fees or taxes makes it very difficult to meet the needs of our universities.

#8   =   REMOVED FROM BALLOT BY FLORIDA SUPREME COURT    Amendment 8 was drafted by the Constitutional Revision Commission and was a “bundled” amendment.  The Florida Supreme Court upheld the decision by a lower court that Amendment 8 misled voters by not clearly stating its true purpose and failed to ever mention “charter schools” by name.

#9   =   YES     Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces:  This bans offshore oil and gas drilling beneath waters controlled by Florida AND prohibits the use of e-cigarettes (known as “vaping”) at indoor workplaces.  It is our concern for the environment that overrides our concern about putting “vaping” in the Florida Constitution.  We also believe that if this amendment does not pass, it sends a signal to the federal government that Florida does not care about off-shore drilling.

#10 =   NO     State and Local Government Structure and Operation:  This prohibits counties from abolishing certain local offices, forcing all counties to elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and Clerk of Circuit Court AND changes the start date of legislative sessions AND adds an executive office and executive department to the Florida Constitution.  This amendment is clearly an effort to restrict the powers of local government, taking away control granted to chartered counties and limiting their ability to respond to local conditions.

#11 =   NO     Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes:  This removes discriminatory language related to real property rights AND removes obsolete language repealed by voters AND deletes a provision that amendment of a criminal statute will not affect prosecution or penalties for a crime committed before the amendment AND retains current provision allowing prosecution of a crime committed before the repeal of a criminal statute.  The first issue regarding the ability of non-citizens to purchase and sell property cannot be enforced.  Although removing obsolete language is a good thing, there is a lot of other obsolete language that is not being addressed.  The impact of the criminal statute portion is unclear and disputed.   Other repealed provisions are already viewed as unenforceable or expired.

#12 =   NO     Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers:  This expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees by expanding from two to six years the time that many officials would have to wait before they could lobby state government for compensation.  Although there is need for lobbying reform, this amendment does not address the real issue regarding lobbying which is the impact of money in political campaigns.  Also, the wording is applied too broadly at the local level.  This amendment will not solve problems of money and influence in politics.

#13 =   YES     Ends Dog Racing:  This 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.  While primarily a gambling issue, this amendment will end the legal wagering on inhumane dog racing.

County Referendums:  General Obligation Bonds

#1  =  NO POSITION    Approving Jail Projects/Improvements

#2  =  YES     Approving Fire-Rescue Projects/Infrastructure Improvements 

#3  =  YES     Approving Parks and Recreation Projects/Improvements

#4  =  YES     Approving Libraries Projects/Improvements 

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