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The Constitutional Amendments: "If you don't understand it, don't vote for it. Vote No."

Cnty Commissioner and Former Police Chief, Rick Davis


Madison County Commissioner Rick Davis presents the 13 Constitutional Amendments.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Thursday night at the monthly North Central Florida Regional Planning Council (NCFRPC) meeting, NCFRPC member and past President Rick Davis reviewed the thirteen Florida Constitutional Amendments which are on the November 6 ballot. This article will review Mr. Davis's extensive presentation to the extent that it highlighted the individuals and groups supporting the various amendments.

Mr. Davis began, "This is non partisan. Most of my research came from Ballotpedia. I relied on that a lot."

"There are thirteen constitutional amendments. Three of the amendments were proposed by the Florida legislature. Two of them were citizens' initiatives, and the other eight amendments were proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission."

If you don't understand it, vote no

Mr. Davis told the gathering of North Florida (and Alachua) officials, "If you don't understand it, don't vote for it. Vote no."

Amendment 1

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 1 would impact the revenue of local governments. In Florida, counties that are considered fiscally-constrained counties—defined as rural counties and counties where a one mill levy would raise no more than $5 million annually—receive funds from the state government to offset decreases in revenue caused by certain homestead exemptions. House Bill 7107 (HB 7107), passed in 2017, would require the state legislature to provide funds to fiscally-constrained counties to offset decreases in property taxes caused by the passage of Amendment 1 of 2018. State fiscal analysis estimate that fiscally-constrained counties would have revenue loses around $10.5 million annually."

Supporters

Florida State Sen. Tom Lee (R-20) Republican Party of Palm Beach County Florida Family Policy Council

Opponents

The Florida League of Cities; The Florida City and County Management Association; League of Women Voters of Florida; Florida Policy Institute; Progress Florida; Florida Education Association; Florida Association of Counties Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Amendment 2

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 2 would make permanent the cap of 10 percent on annual non-homestead parcel assessment increases set to expire on January 1, 2019. The cap does not apply to school district taxes. Voters approved the cap in 2008, when 64 percent voted to pass Amendment 1."

"Properties considered non-homestead parcels include non-homestead residential properties, such as second homes and rental apartments, and nonresidential property, such as commercial property and vacant land."

Supporters Florida Association of Realtors; Florida TaxWatch; Florida Chamber of Commerce; Republican Party of Palm Beach County; Florida Family Policy Council

Opponents League of Women Voters of Florida; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Amendment 3

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 3 would make the citizen initiative process "the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling."

Supporters

Disney Worldwide Services, Inc.; Seminole Tribe of Florida; League of Women Voters of Florida; Florida Chamber of Commerce; Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association; No Casinos Inc.; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida; Florida Family Policy Council

Opponents Sen. Bill Galvano (R-21); West Flagler Associates, LTD; Hialeah Park; American Legion of Florida; Republican Party of Palm Beach County; Libertarian Party of Florida

Amendment 4

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 4 was designed to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completion of their sentences, including prison, parole, and probation."

Supporters: Officials

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT); U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist (D-13); Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham (D-2), gubernatorial candidate; Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), gubernatorial candidate; Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine (D), gubernatorial candidate; Christopher King (D), businessman and gubernatorial candidate; Julian Castro (D), Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Barack Obama; Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Organizations

Florida Rights Restoration Coalition; American Civil Liberties Union; Our Revolution; New Approach PAC; Reentry Alliance Pensacola; League of Women Voters of Florida; Progress Florida; Florida Policy Institute, Florida Education Association; Florida National Organization for Women; The Christian Coalition of America; Florida TaxWatch; Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce; Libertarian Party of Florida; Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops

Opponents: Officials

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R), gubernatorial candidate; Rep. Richard Corcoran (R-37); Florida Family Policy Council

Amendment 5

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 5 would require a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the Florida State Legislature to enact new taxes or fees or increase existing ones."

Supporters: Officials

Gov. Rick Scott (R); House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-37); Rep. Tom Leek (R-25); Rep. Kionne McGhee (D-117); Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77); Rep. Larry Metz (R-32); Sen. Rob Bradley (R-5)

Organizations

Florida TaxWatch; Florida Chamber of Commerce; Republican Party of Palm Beach County; Libertarian Party of Florida; Florida Family Policy Council

Opponents: Officials

Rep. Joseph Geller (D-100); Rep. Sean Shaw (D-61); Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D); Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-27)

Organizations

League of Women Voters of Florida; Florida Policy Institute; Progress Florida; Florida Education Association; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Amendment 6

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 6, Victims Right and judges is a package of thee amendments. On August 27, 2018, Amendment 6 was ordered to be removed from the ballot by Leon County Judge Karen Gievers. Then on September 7, 2018, Florida Supreme Court overturned the ruling and Amendment 6 and 10 was ordered to be placed back on the ballot, while Amendment 8 was removed."

Supporters

Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson Jr.; Orange County sheriff and mayor-elect Jerry Demings; Florida Smart Justice; Republican Party of Palm Beach County; Florida Family Policy Council

Opponents

Save My Constitution opposes this measure, as well as every other measure placed on the November 2018 ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission. The group consists of former state and federal lawmakers including Jim Kallinger (R), Jeff Kottkamp (R), Jennifer Carroll (R), Sandy Adams (R), and Connie Mack (R). The group argues that the measures are confusing and misleading and were placed on the ballot in a deceptive way by bundling multiple subjects in a single proposal.

League of Women Voters of Florida (said victims' rights are already protected in the Constitution); Florida Public Defender Association; ACLU of Florida; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida; Libertarian Party of Florida

Amendment 7

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 7 is about first responders and higher education. It is another package of three Constitutional Amendments."

Amendment 8: Removed by Court

Amendment 9

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 9 would prohibit drilling, either for exploration or extraction of oil or natural gas in state waters and vaping. This is a package of two amendments."

Supporters

League of Women Voters of Florida; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Organizations

350 Pensacola; American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; Apalachicola Riverkeeper; Bullsugar Alliance; Calusa Waterkeeper; Center for Biological Diversity; Collier County Waterkeeper; Defenders of Wildlife; Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida; Everglades Coalition; Florida Conservation Voters; Florida Wildlife Federation; Food and Water Action; Florida Policy Institute; Gulf Restoration Network; Hands Across the Sand; Lake Worth Waterkeeper; ManaSota-88, Inc.; Matanzas Riverkeeper; Miami Waterkeeper; National Wildlife Federation; Oceana; Progress Florida; ReThink Energy Florida; Save the Manatee Club; Sea Turtle Conservancy; Sierra Club of Florida; South Florida Wildlands Association; Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Suncoast Waterkeeper

Opponents

Libertarian Party of Florida; Florida Petroleum Council; Associated Industries of Florida; Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association; Florida Chamber of Commerce

Amendment 10

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 10 concerns Florida state and government structure and operation. It is a package of 4 amendments and concerns counties' rights to self governance.

Supporters

Walt McNeil, Leon County Sheriff; Doris Maloy, Leon County Tax Collector; Gwen Marshall, Leon County Clerk; Florida Sheriff's Association; Mark Hunter, Columbia County Sheriff

Opponents

Libertarian Party of Florida; League of Women Voters of Florida; Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida; Florida Family Policy Council; Sun Sentinel; News Press; Tampa Bay Times; Tallahassee Democrat; Treasure Coast News; Columbia County Observer

Amendment 11

Mr. Davis explained, "This amendment repeals prohibition on aliens’ property Ownership; deletes obsolete provision on high-speed rail, and repeals criminal statutes effect on prosecution.

Amendment 12

Mr. Davis explained, "This amendment increase the time of prohibition of lobbying by public officials from two years to six years.

Amendment 13

Mr. Davis explained, "Amendment 13 would ban wagering on dog races."

Mr. Davis continued, "As of 2018, Florida is one of 10 states where wagering on dog races is legal. However, in just six states, including Florida, are there operating dog racing tracks for gambling."

"Beginning on January 1, 2021, Amendment 13 would prohibit pari-mutuel (a type of betting pool) operations from racing greyhounds or any other dogs for wagering. The measure would also prohibit persons in the state from wagering on the outcome of live dog races occurring in the state."

The Florida Greyhound Association sued Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner claiming the ballot language was inaccurate and misleading.

On August 1, 2018, Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled that the amendment must be taken off the ballot. In her order, she wrote, "Contrary to the words presented for consideration by the voters, the amendment would not end dog racing, nor would it eliminate wagering on dog racing. In short, proposed Amendment 13 is misleading and inaccurate and incomplete."

The Protect Dogs campaign, which supports Amendment 13 and Attorney General Pam Bondi said that they would appeal the decision.

On August 2, 2018, the state's chief deputy solicitor general appealed the decision, which also put an automatic stay on the case, meaning that the measure could still appear on the ballot. Parties to the case requested the matter be heard in the Florida Supreme Court.

On September 7, 2018, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court's ruling, ordering the amendment to appear on the ballot.

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