Monroe County Politics: On the Ballot: At a Glance

Even the savviest political pundits may face slight confusion when heading to the polls on Tuesday.

“I still have to help my husband and several of my friends complete their sample ballots,” said Senior Legislative Assistant Holly Merrill Raschien.

To us here at The Weekly, the thought of voting on a constitutional amendment about which we’re unclear seems awfully scary. So, we’ve included some concise explanations, courtesy of The Collins Center for Public Policy, and the arguments for and against each one.

Amendment 1
Sponsor/Originator: The Florida Legislature
Title on Ballot: Repeal of public campaign financing requirement
What it would do: Amendment 1 would end taxpayer financing of political campaigns.
Arguments for: The state is experiencing tight financial times. It makes no sense to spend taxpayers’ money to subsidize campaigns when candidates can raise the money themselves.
Arguments against: The people voted overwhelmingly for the present public financing requirement 13 years ago. Public financing reduces the effect of money on politics and can open the door for candidates to run without big-money backers.

Amendment 2
Sponsor/Originator: The Florida Legislature
Title on Ballot: Homestead ad valorem tax credit for deployed military personnel
What it would do: Instruct the Legislature to enact an additional homestead exemption for Florida homeowners on active military service outside the country. The size of the tax break would be based on the amount of time served overseas in the previous year.
Arguments for: Military personnel based overseas are performing important services for our country at considerable sacrifice. This amendment would help compensate them for that service.
Arguments against: Providing an additional exemption to certain property owners would reduce tax collections by hard-pressed local governments.

Amendment 3*** REMOVED FROM BALLOT ***

Amendment 4
Sponsor/Originator: Florida Hometown Democracy
Title on Ballot: Referenda required for adoption and amendment of local government comprehensive land use plans
What it would do: Amendment 4 would give local voters a veto over any changes in comprehensive plans.
Arguments for: Local governments have proven themselves incapable of placing the public interest before the interests of real estate developers. The people should have the final say.
Arguments against: The amendment would require votes on every change, no matter how minor. Ballots would be long and involved. Voters would be overwhelmed. Growth would grind to a halt, and the state’s economy would remain mired in recession.

Amendment 5
Sponsor/Originator: Fair DistrictsFlorida.org
Title on Ballot: Standards for Legislature to follow in legislative redistricting
What it would do: Amendment 5 would require that legislative districts not be drawn to favor one political party over another or deny minorities equal opportunity to participate in the political process.
Arguments for: Incumbents, both Democrat and Republican, have traditionally drawn district boundaries to give themselves political advantage. Redistricting should not favor any incumbent or party.
Arguments against: The amendment might reduce minority representation. Abiding by the amendment would be difficult, and redistricting under its strictures could lead to a flurry of lawsuits.

Amendment 6
Sponsor/Originator: FairDistrictsFlorida.org
Title on Ballot: Standards for Legislature to follow in congressional redistricting
What it would do: Amendment 6 would require that congressional districts not be drawn to favor one political party over another or deny minorities equal opportunity to participate in the political process.
Arguments for: Incumbents, both Democrat and Republican, have traditionally drawn district boundaries to give themselves political advantage. Redistricting should not favor any incumbent or party.
Arguments against: The amendment might reduce minority representation. Abiding by the amendment would be difficult, and redistricting under its strictures could lead to a flurry of lawsuits.

Amendment 7 ***REMOVED FROM BALLOT***

Amendment 8
Sponsor/Originator: Florida Legislature
Title on Ballot: Revision of the class size requirements for public schools
Arguments for: Proponents of the amendment argue that its cost is simply too high in today’s poor economy. They say the state can’t afford to build more classrooms and hire more teachers. They say the amendment would provide needed flexibility that does not exist in the Constitution as amended in 2002.
Arguments against: Opponents say the state’s voters made it clear in 2002 that they wanted to limit class sizes. Smaller classes make a better learning environment, they argue. The statewide teachers’ union, the Florida Education Association, opposes the bill. The union is calling on the state to fulfill the constitutional mandate and implement the limits approved at the ballot box.

 

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