April 19, 2024

Florida Law

Florida's constitutional amendments are a mixed bag

The Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years, has proposed eight constitutional amendments — many combining multiple measures. Five single-topic proposals from the Legislature or citizens were already slated for the ballot.

Jason Garcia | 6/28/2018

Amendments 1-5 originate from citizens or the Legislature.

  NO. 1

Home Exemption

The proposal, which passed the Republican-controlled Legislature on a largely party-line vote, would exempt the portion of a home’s value between $100,000 and $125,000 from all non-school property taxes.

  NO. 2

Non-Homestead Tax Cap

The bipartisan measure would make permanent a Save Our Homes-like tax cap for non-homestead property that prevents taxable values from growing more than 10% a year; if voters don’t approve, the non-homestead cap would expire in 2019. Proposals 1 and 2 combined would save taxpayers — but cost cities, counties and other local governments — more than $1.3 billion a year. State lawmakers are trumpeting the amendments as evidence of their commitment to tax cuts, although local government leaders note that legislators are forcing cities and counties — rather than the state itself — to deal with the fallout that will come in the form of cutting more services or raising tax rates.

  NO. 3

Casinos

The result of a petition drive bankrolled by Disney and the Seminole Tribe, the proposal would prevent the construction of a casino anywhere in Florida unless first approved by voters in a statewide referendum. The overarching goal of the amendment is to prevent the construction of any Las Vegas-style destination resort casinos, which both Disney and the tribe view as competition.

  NO. 4

Ex-Felon Voting

The proposal, which arose from a petition drive backed by Democratic-leaning activist groups, would automatically restore voting rights of felons once they have completed their sentences, except for those convicted of murder or sexual offenses. Because a disproportionate number of ex-felons are black, and because black voters are overwhelmingly Democratic, the campaign has enthusiastic support from Democraticleaning groups — and so far subtle opposition from Republican-leaning organizations.

  NO. 5

Tax Hurdle

Gov. Rick Scott lobbied this measure through the Legislature just ahead of his U.S. Senate run. It would make it harder for future Legislatures to raise or impose taxes by requiring them to do so by a two-thirds vote, rather than a simple majority. Expect Scott to continually cite the amendment on the campaign trail, which he hopes will help defuse criticism that the state’s overall spending grew to historic levels during his tenure as governor.

 

See other stories from Florida Trend's July issue.

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Tags: Politics & Law, Government/Politics & Law

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