League of Women Voters oppose all amendments related to taxes.
The Amendments to the Florida Constitution that will be on the ballot on Nov. 6 now number 12, and representatives of the League of Women Voters discussed each with Citizens For Ormond Beach, a local community organization, at their Sept. 12 meeting at Ormond Beach Regional Library.
Amendments can get on the ballot from three sources: citizen initiative, legislative action or the Constitution Revision Commission. Only the Commission can propose amendments that contain multiple issues, which can be confusing and are sometimes struck down by the Florida Supreme Court for that reason.
Carla Christianson, of the League of Women Voters, suggested that if a voter disagrees with one part of an amendment, they should vote no, because once something gets into the state Constitution, it’s very difficult to remove.
An example of an amendment that bundles separate issues is Amendment 9, which would prohibit oil and gas drilling beneath all Florida waters controlled by the state and vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces.
“I don’t know what they were vaping when they wrote this amendment,” Christianson said to laughter, referring to the separate issues. She said oil drilling is currently against state law and this amendment would only make it more permanent. The amendment is opposed by the Florida Petroleum Council and supported by wildlife groups.
“I don’t know what they were vaping when they wrote this amendment,”
CARLA CHRISTIANSON, League of Women Voters
For those who find amendments with multiple issues problematic, the good news is that it won’t happen again for another 20 years, because that’s how often the CRC meets. Ann Smith, of the League of Women Voters, said that gives citizens 20 years to work to change the system.
As of 2006, at least 60 percent of the vote is required to pass a constitutional amendment in Florida.
The Florida Supreme Court recently removed Amendment 8 from the ballot, which would have allowed the state to have control over charter schools, rather than local school boards. It was bundled with a measure to teach “civic literacy” in the schools.
The goal of the League is to “research, educate and advocate” and Smith told the audience that they oppose any amendment that has anything to do with taxes or money, saying lawmakers should make the decisions with a goal to balance the budget.
“The Legislature should do their jobs,” she said.
An example would be Amendment One, which would add $25,000 to the amount that can be exempted from property tax. This is supported by Florida Association of Realtors and Tax Watch, but opponents, such as the League, say it’s unfair to homeowners with lower priced homes. The exemption increase only applies to homes valued at more than $100,000, and Smith pointed out that a home can be worth much more than $100,000 in the market, but valued at less than $100,000 by the county property assessor.
Another amendment with local impact is Amendment 10, which would make elected department heads; including the sheriff, property appraiser and supervisor of elections; constitutional officers, which would make them independent and not report to the county manager, who reports to the County Council in Volusia County.
This amendment is supported by Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood, as well as many other sheriffs around the state, who say the sheriff should be able to run his own department. It’s opposed by the League, and those who don’t want sheriffs to have independent control. Opponents also say it would be expensive to set up separate departments.
Amendment 13 would ban wagering on dog racing, but not the racing itself. It would not have any effect on other types of gambling, such as poker rooms. It is currently being legally challenged and may not appear on the ballot.
For information on other amendments, read an earlier story by visiting www.ormondbeachobserver.com and searching for “amendment-1-volusia-county.”
For election information, the League representatives suggest visiting www.vote411.org.