Editor’s note: Each proposed amendment must pass with 60 percent of the vote to become law.
AMENDMENT NO. 1
HEALTH CARE SERVICES
This amendment to the Florida Constitution would prohibit the state from requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.
A “yes” vote means you want the Florida Constitution to include a provision that prohibits the government from requiring you to purchase health insurance. A “no” vote means you do not want the Florida Constitution to include a provision that prohibits the government from requiring you to purchase health insurance.
Arguments for: The federal government cannot force people to purchase health insurance, and this amendment is an attempt to protect Floridians from that requirement in the federal health care act (“Obamacare”) passed in 2010. Voting for this measure would send a message that Congress overstepped its authority.
Arguments against: This proposed amendment would not allow Floridians to opt out of the requirement that all Americans purchase health insurance. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2012, that the federal requirement to purchase insurance is constitutional.
AMENDMENT NO. 2
VETERANS DISABLED DUE TO COMBAT INJURY; HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX DISCOUNT
This amendment would allow certain disabled veterans, who were not Florida residents prior to entering military service, to qualify for a discount on their property taxes. The state estimates that this amendment could cost an estimated total of $15 million over the first three years.
A “yes” vote means you want the state to give a property tax discount to disabled veterans who moved to Florida after entering the military. A “no” vote means you do not want to extend the tax discount to these veterans.
Arguments for: This amendment will benefit older veterans who were injured in combat but did not live in Florida at the time they entered the military. The property tax discount can help with medical bills and may allow veterans to stay in their homes longer as they age. It might also stimulate the housing market by persuading veterans to move to Florida.
Arguments against: State and local governments face mounting budget shortfalls in part because of diminished property tax returns brought about by the collapse of the housing market. Schools and local governments need to maintain the tax base or consider cuts to public services.
AMENDMENT NO. 3
STATE GOVERNMENT REVENUE LIMITATION
This amendment would set a state revenue limit each year based on a formula that considers population growth and inflation instead of using the current method of calculating the revenue limit based on personal income.
A “yes” vote means you want the state to change the way it calculates its revenue limit. A “no” vote means you do not want the state to change the way it calculates its revenue limit.
Arguments for: This amendment would ensure that the state budget never grows beyond a family’s ability to pay the taxes and fees needed to fund that growth. It would make government more efficient.
Arguments against: During tough economic times, when tax revenues drop and there is a greater need for government services, this amendment would make it impossible for agencies to meet demand, even when there is available revenue.
This amendment threatens funding for critical government services like health care and education.
AMENDMENT NO. 4
PROPERTY TAX LIMITATIONS; PROPERTY VALUE DECLINE; REDUCTION FOR NON-HOMESTEAD ASSESSMENT INCREASES; DELAY OF SCHEDULED REPEAL
This proposal creates an additional homestead exemption for first-time homebuyers for 5 years; protects Floridians from increased property taxes when their property values have declined; and lowers the maximum yearly assessment increase on non-homestead properties, including small businesses, from 10 percent to 5 percent.
A “yes” vote means you favor the tax breaks. A “no” vote means you are against the tax breaks.
Arguments for: This amendment would make Florida property taxation more equitable, stimulate the housing and commercial real estate markets and attract investors to the state.
Arguments against: Opponents say it would create tax disparities and strip an estimated $1 billion from the tax base over the next three years at a time when local governments are struggling to provide basic services.
AMENDMENT NO. 5
This measure would provide for Florida Senate confirmation of Florida Supreme Court justices; give lawmakers control over changes to the rules governing the court system; and direct the judicial qualifications commission, which investigates judicial misconduct complaints, to make its files available to the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.
A “yes” vote means you want the Senate to have confirmation power over Supreme Court appointees, and some authority over changes to the rules that govern the state’s courts. You also want to grant the House access to Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative files on judges. A “no” vote means you do not want these proposed changes made.
Arguments for: This amendment would make the appellate court system run more efficiently and add a layer of accountability before Supreme Court justices are appointed.
Arguments against: The measure is a dangerous attempt to exert political influence over the judicial branch by giving legislators more authority.
AMENDMENT NO. 6
PROHIBITION ON PUBLIC FUNDING OF ABORTIONS; CONSTRUCTION OF ABORTION RIGHTS
This amendment would make the existing federal ban on public funding for most abortions part of the state constitution. It would narrow the scope of a state privacy law that is sometimes used in Florida to challenge abortion laws.
A “yes” vote means you support putting the existing federal ban on the use of public funds for abortions into the state constitution; and you support eliminating the state’s privacy right with respect to a woman’s right to choose. A “no” vote means you are against placing the existing federal ban on using public funds for abortions into the state constitution; and you are against eliminating the state’s privacy right with respect to a woman’s right to choose.
Arguments for: This amendment makes it clear that Florida prohibits public funding for abortions and gives the public a voice in deciding state abortion law.
Arguments against: This amendment discriminates against women, strips away a woman’s fundamental right to choose, and erodes established law, including rights of privacy.
AMENDMENT NO. 7
REMOVED FROM BALLOT
AMENDMENT NO. 8
This amendment would remove the prohibition in Florida’s Constitution that prevents religious institutions from receiving taxpayer funding.
A “yes” vote means you want to remove from the Florida Constitution a prohibition against the state funding religious institutions and replace it with a provision that prohibits the state from denying funding to institutions based on religious affiliations. A “no” vote means you want to retain the provision in the Florida Constitution that prohibits the state from funding religious institutions.
Arguments for: The amendment would allow the state to fund programs that provide a valuable public service but are currently denied that funding because they are affiliated with religious organizations. They also say the current law that denies funding to religious groups was passed in 1885 and is rooted in anti-Catholic bias and should be removed from the state’s constitution.
Arguments against: The amendment would eliminate a long-established component of the separation of church and state that prevents the government from funding groups that espouse religious beliefs. They also say the anti-Catholic bias cited by supporters of the amendment was not a motivation for the law’s passage in 1885 and, even if it were, that bias no longer exists and should not be a reason for eliminating the ban on funding religious groups.
AMENDMENT NO. 9
MILITARY VETERAN OR FIRST RESPONDER
This would grant a full property tax exemption to the surviving spouses of military veterans who die while on active duty and to the surviving spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty. The state estimates that this amendment would reduce local school and government tax revenues by about $600,000 statewide in the first year it is in effect.
A “yes” vote means you want the state to grant the full homestead exemption to the surviving spouses. A “no” vote means you do not want the state to grant the full homestead exemption.
Arguments for: It helps the families left behind when a veteran or first responder dies in service to his country or community.
Arguments against: It takes a bite out of the tax revenues schools and local governments need to provide services.
AMENDMENT NO. 10
TANGIBLE PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION
This amendment would double the tangible personal property tax exemption and allow local governments to increase the exemption. The state estimates that this amendment could cost $61 million combined over the first three years, according to state estimates.
A “yes” vote means you want to double the tangible personal property tax exemption and allow cities and counties to expand the exemptions beyond that.
A “no” vote means you want to leave the tax exemption on tangible personal property at its current rate, and you do not want to allow cities and counties to expand the exemptions.
Arguments for: It would help small businesses and generate jobs.
Arguments against: It takes a bite out of the tax revenues schools and local governments need to provide services.
AMENDMENT NO. 11
ADDITIONAL HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN LOW-INCOME SENIORS
This amendment would give an additional property tax exemption to low-income seniors who have lived in their home for more than 25 years.
A “yes” vote means you think cities and counties should have the authority to grant a full property tax discount to eligible seniors. A “no” vote means you do not think that cities and counties should have the authority to grant a full property tax discount to eligible seniors. The state estimates that this amendment could cost an estimated $18.5 million in combined tax revenues over the first two years of implementation.
Arguments for: Elderly residents on fixed incomes will benefit. The property tax discount can help with medical bills and may allow more elderly residents to stay in their homes as they age.
Arguments against: State and local governments face mounting budget shortfalls in part because of diminished property tax returns. Schools and local governments need to maintain the tax base.
AMENDMENT NO. 12
APPOINTMENT OF STUDENT BODY PRESIDENT TO BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE STATE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM
This amendment would change the way the state selects the student representative on the state university system’s Board of Governors, which oversees the university system.
A “yes” vote means you want the state create a new council of university student presidents from which the student representative to the Board of Governors will be chosen. A “no” vote means you want to keep the current system of selecting the student representative to the Board of Governors.
Arguments for: This amendment guarantees every university has a chance to have their student body president be named as a representative of the Board of Governors.
Arguments against: Opponents say this amendment is unnecessary.
Sources: Florida Department of Elections; Miami-Dade Democratic Party; Collins Center for Public Policy; League of Women Voters of Florida; James Madison Institute; Florida Chamber of Commerce.
VOTE NO ON ALL AMENDMENTS
BY THE FLORIDA COURIER EDITORIAL STAFF