The Informed Citizen, Amendments 1 – 5

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By Dane Eagle, Florida House of Representatives, District 77 and Majority Whip

In last month’s issue, we discussed the magnitude of the upcoming elections, not necessarily because of the offices on the ballot but because of the issues on the ballot. On November 6th, you will see thirteen proposed Constitutional Amendments, as well as local referendums.

This month we will discuss the first five proposed Constitutional Amendments. Amendments 1, 2, and 5 were placed on your ballot through a supermajority vote of the Florida Legislature. Amendments 3 and 4 were put on the ballot through the citizens’ initiative process of obtaining 766,200 voter petitions and Supreme Court approval.

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If passed, Amendment 1 will increase the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed valuation of homestead property by an additional $25,000 for most Florida voters, on top of the existing exemption of $50,000. The result will be lower property taxes for homeowners.

Fortunately, in Florida, we also have a 3% cap on the annual increases in assessed value of homestead property to help homeowners save on their taxes. However, there was no cap on non-homestead properties in Florida until 2008, when the voters placed a 10% cap on their annual increases. This cap will sunset at the end of 2018 unless voters approve Amendment 2, which will make the 10% cap permanent.

Amendment 3 would give Florida voters the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling through additional Constitutional Amendments. This would take the decision of gaming expansions away from the Governor and Legislature and give it to the voters.

Amendment 4 would automatically restore the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence. The restoration of rights process is currently conducted on a case-by-case basis through the Executive Clemency Board, which consists of the Governor and Florida Cabinet.

The Governor and Florida Legislature have cut your taxes by well over $10 billion in the last eight years. This was done through a simple majority vote of the legislature; however, it can also be undone through a simple majority vote. This is why we placed Amendment 5 on your ballot, which would prohibit the legislature from raising any state taxes or fees unless through a two-thirds supermajority vote.

I hope you have found this information helpful. I encourage you to do additional research on all thirteen proposed Constitutional Amendments on your November ballot. Next month we’ll be discussing Amendments 6-9.