June 6, 2018 from League of Women Voters of Florida:
POSITIONS ON AMENDMENTS
Hello local leaders,
Each election cycle, the board of directors looks at any amendments on the ballot and determines whether or not to take a position. As you know, this year’s amendment count is higher than usual due to those submitted by the Constitution Revision Commission. The board examined every amendment that voters will decide on and determined positions on each. The bundling of topics within amendments presented a challenge, but the board weighed already established League positions heavily in their decisions.
Below you will find brief descriptions of each amendment and the board’s position.
Amendment 1 – Amendment placed on the ballot by legislation to increase the amount of a home’s value exempted from property tax
LWVFL position: Oppose. The League has a position that “no tax sources or revenue should be specified, limited, exempted, or prohibited in the Constitution.”
Amendment 2 – Amendment placed on the ballot by legislation that makes the cap on nonhomestead parcel assessment increases permanent.
LWVFL position: Oppose (same reasoning as Amendment 1).
Amendment 3 – Amendment placed on the ballot via citizen initiative that requires approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Legislature from making gambling decisions by passing laws.
LWVFL position: 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.
Amendment 4 – Amendment placed on the ballot via citizen initiative that automatically restores the voting rights of felons after they’ve completed their sentences, except for those convicted of murder or sex offenses.
LWVFL position: 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.
Amendment 5 – Amendment placed on the ballot by legislation that requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees.
LWVFL position: Oppose, as in 2012 when a similar amendment was on the ballot. 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.
The next eight amendments are all from the CRC:
Amendment 6 – Adds Marsy’s Law to the state Constitution, increases judicial retirement age, prohibits judges from deferring to administrative agencies in interpreting law.
LWVFL position: 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.
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 the state pay a death benefit to first responders or members of the military killed in the line of duty.
LWVFL position: 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.
Amendment 8 – Mandates term limits for all school boards, allows the state to create “public schools” that would not be answerable to local school boards, and requires schools to teach civic literacy.
LWVFL position- Oppose. We believe local governments should have the responsibility to set term limits for their offices. We are opposed to a state run system for establishing and operating public schools, and schools do not need a constitutional amendment to teach civics.
Amendment 9 – Prohibits oil and gas drilling beneath all waters controlled by Florida and prohibits vaping in enclosed indoor workplaces.
LWVFL position: 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.
Amendment 10 – Requires the Legislature to hold a session in early January on even numbered years, creates an Office of Domestic Security and Counter-terrorism, mandates the existence of a state Department of Veteran Affairs, and forces all counties (both charter and non-charter) to elect rather than appoint all constitutional officers.
LWVFL position: Oppose. This limits local governments 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.
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 a law that has become obsolete; deletes obsolete language regarding high speed rail in Florida.
LWVFL position: 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.
Amendment 12 – Expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees by expanding from 2 to 6 years the time that they would have to wait before being able to lobby state government.
LWVFL position: 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.
Amendment 13 – Bans wagering on any type of dog racing by Dec. 31, 2020.
LWVFL position: Support. This is primarily a gambling issue, and the League has held a consistent position against gamblin