Constitutional amendments 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 explained

OKEECHOBEE — Amendment Seven was another amendment placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Committee. This is a three-part bundled amendment. It is another one of those all or nothing votes. You cannot split it up and vote yes for the parts you like.

Part one specifies mandatory death benefits for first responders and military members killed in the line of duty. It also allows for the waiving of some educational expenses for members of their families.

Part two requires a supermajority vote before universities can raise or impose new fees.
Part three places the current governing system of Florida’s higher education into the Constitution.

Jamesmadison.org explains one of the pros to voting yes on this amendment is it would force universities to be more transparent. If they had to explain the reason for each rate hike, they could not spike them haphazardly. They believe this amendment gives Floridians the opportunity to help the families of those who protect our country by forcing the state to provide for them.

The League of Women Voters lists Supporters of this amendment as the Association of Florida colleges and opponents as themselves and the Florida Education Association. The League of Women voters opposes the amendment because they oppose a supermajority vote to increase taxes or fees and because family members of the military who die during service are already compensated.

Remember, a yes vote means you are voting yes to all three things, not just one. So you are voting for mandatory death benefits for first responders and military members killed in the line of duty AND you are voting for a mandatory supermajority vote before universities can raise fees AND you are voting to make the current governing system of universities a part of the Constitution.

Amendment Eight was removed from the ballot.

Amendment Nine

Amendment Nine was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Committee and is a two-part bundled amendment with two completely unrelated subjects all packaged up to be voted on together.

The first part of this amendment bans offshore drilling in any waters controlled by Florida.

The second part makes the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace illegal.

The League of Women Voters supports this amendment because they feel that their concern for the environment outweighs their concern about putting this in the Constitution. They also do not want Florida to appear unconcerned about offshore drilling.

They list the Florida Wildlife Federation; Gulf Restoration Network; American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; League of Women Voters of Florida; Florida Policy Institute; Progress Florida and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy as supporters of the amendment.

They list the Florida Petroleum Council; Associated Industries of Florida; Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce as opponents.

Jamesmadison.org considers the passing of this amendment a step toward protecting Florida’s beaches. They also believe e-cigarettes falls into the same category as regular cigarettes and usage should have the same restrictions. They point out that most opponents to this amendment believe these issues should be handled legislatively instead of constitutionally.

A yes vote on this amendment means that you are voting to ban offshore drilling in waters controlled by Florida AND you are voting to ban the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.

Amendment Ten

Amendment Ten was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Committee and is a bundle of four separate issues.

The first requires the legislature to provide for a Department of Veteran Affairs, rather than keeping things as they are now which only allows for a Department of Veteran Affairs. The League of Women Voters explains, the difference is even though we have a Department of Veteran Affairs at this time, it is optional. At any time, it could be decided that we no longer need one. If this amendment passes, it would no longer be optional.

The second creates an office of domestic security and counter-terrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The third would set the starting day for the meetings of the legislature to the second Tuesday in Jan. in even numbered years. This is the time they have been meeting in recent years, and it would just make it an official starting day. During odd years, they begin their meetings on the first Tuesday in March, and this would not change.

The fourth would force all Florida counties to hold elections for all five local constitutional offices, sheriff, property appraiser, tax collector, clerk of circuit court, and supervisor of elections. Jamesmadison.org states there are a few counties in Florida who do not hold elections but rather, appoint some of these positions. This amendment would help maintain consistency throughout the state.

The League of Women Voters opposes this amendment. They believe it is an attempt to limit the powers of local government. According to them, the Constitution already authorizes the Legislature to create a Department of Veteran Affairs and the Federal Department of Law Enforcement is already in charge of efforts to prevent terrorism.

They list Florida’s 66 elected Sheriffs, and Florida’s elected Tax Collectors, Clerks of the Courts, and the Property Appraisers as supporters of the amendment and only themselves as opponents.

As always with the bundled amendments, a yes vote is a yes vote for the entire thing: the Department of Veteran Affairs, the creation of an office of domestic security and counter-terrorism, an official starting date for meetings of the Legislature in even numbered years and for forcing all counties to hold elections for constitutional offices.

Amendment Eleven

Amendment Eleven was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Committee and bundles three separate issues all three of which are repeals of some part of the Constitution.

The first deals with the power of the Legislature to restrict those who are not citizens from owning land. At this time, Florida does not have any laws on the books restricting their ability to own property, but the Legislature still has the ability to pass these laws. This amendment would take that authority away from the Legislature.

The second part relates to persons accused of a crime. At this time, the law states that they are prosecuted under the law in effect at the time of the crime even if the law changes before their trial, and even if the punishment for the crime is lowered, they are still judged by the old guidelines. This amendment would allow criminals to be prosecuted under the most current laws.

The third part involves high-speed transportation. There is language in the Constitution specifically about high-speed transportation, which was placed there when Florida was planning to build high-speed ground transportation in 2002. Although this never happened, the language is still in the Constitution. This amendment would remove it.

The League of Women Voters opposes this amendment because, “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.”

They list supporters of the amendment as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A yes vote on this amendment would mean the Legislature would no longer have the power to restrict non-citizens from owning land AND would ensure that anyone accused of a crime would be prosecuted according to the most current laws AND would remove obsolete language, involving high-speed transportation, from the Constitution.

Amendment Twelve

Amendment Twelve was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Committee. This amendment would prevent elected officials from lobbying for compensation. It would also restrict former public officials from lobbying the governing body they once served for a minimum of six years. The League of Women Voters explains, “The current ban on lobbying after leaving office is two years, and the prohibition applies to the government body or agency that person belonged to. In other words, under current law a state legislator who leaves office must wait two years before he or she could make money by lobbying the Legislature. Under this proposal, that senator couldn’t lobby any part of state government until six years after leaving office.”

Amendment Twelve also prohibits public employees using their position to gain a disproportionate advantage for themselves or their families. What is disproportionate would be determined by The Florida Commission on Ethics, which is made up of nine members, two appointed by the House Speaker, Two by the Senate President and five by the governor.

The League of Women Voters is taking no position on this issue. They list Integrity Florida; Common Cause; Florida Policy Institute as supporters and the Florida Chamber of Commerce as an opponent.

Jamesmadison.org argues the six year ban on lobbying is excessive, but state that officials owe it to their constituents to do the work they were elected to do without receiving unfair advantages while in office.

If you vote yes on this amendment, you are voting to restrict elected officials from lobbying from compensation for six years after leaving office.

Amendment Thirteen

Amendment Thirteen was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Committee. This amendment bans dog racing in connection with wagering by the year 2020. It does not affect other forms of gambling.

Although the League of Women Voters does support this amendment, they believe it will result in a loss of $1 million in taxes and fees.

They list supporters of the amendment as the Grey2K USA and the League of Women Voters of Florida and opponents as the Florida Greyhound Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Jamesmadison.org points out the economics involved in shutting down the industry stating, there are approximately 3,000 people employed at the 12 greyhound tracks in Florida.

A yes vote for this amendment means you are voting to completely phase out dog racing in Florida by the year 2020.

As always, get out there and vote, but research the candidates and the issues first, and vote wisely.

12 Amendments will appear on the ballot. Read more about these amendments here.

Amendments 1 & 2

Amendments 3, 4, 5, & 6

Amendments 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13 above

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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