Amendments are certainly the most confusing part of any voter ballot. Here’s the Weekly cheat sheet. We did the best we could deciphering the political mumbo jumbo, so that voters don’t have to go it on their own. We hope it makes casting your vote painless.
Amendment 1 – INCREASED HOMESTEAD PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION
Increases the amount of a home’s value exempted from property tax. Proposed changes would apply to the assessed value of a homestead property between $100,000 and $125,000, raising the maximum exemption to $75,000. Currently, it is a $50,000 exemption, so this would give another $25,000 reducing income for local taxes.
Vote yes: For more tax cuts for homeowners.
Vote no: If you think the average savings of $270 per homeowner is worth taking away from local coffers.
Amendment 2 – LIMITATIONS ON PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS
This applies to businesses, like hotels, and second homeowners: anyone who is non- homesteaded. They would get their taxes capped at a 10 percent increase even though the property value might increase more than that. This has been in effect since 2008 but will expire in January.
Vote yes: Every non-homesteaded property is limited to a 10 percent tax increase.
Vote no: Taxes on non-homestead properties will be based on full market value and no limit to increase.
Amendment 3 –VOTER CONTROL OF GAMBLING IN FLORIDA
This would give voters the sole right to say whether new casinos should be built in Florida. It would make it difficult for anyone to start a new gaming business, requiring thousands of signatures to even get on a voter ballot and essentially hand existing casinos the monopoly. At present, it is up to the Florida State legislators and voters to approve casinos.
Vote yes: Casinos can only be approved by a statewide vote.
Vote no: If local residents, not statewide, should have more of a say on gaming, and keep the government involved.
Amendment 4 – VOTING RESTORATION AMENDMENT**
Automatically restores the voting rights of felons after they have completed their sentences, paroles and probation, except those convicted of murder or sex offenses. At present, they must wait five years and petition the Board of Clemency. Florida is one of only four states that does not automatically restore rights and currently there are 10,000 people on a waiting list to go before the board. This would allow 1.5 million people to vote in the next election.
Vote yes: If you think felons, having paid their dues, should be equal in society.
Vote no: If reinstating voting rights should be on a case-by-case basis determined by the governor and Cabinet.
Amendment 5 –SUPERMAJORITY VOTE REQUIRED TO IMPOSE, AUTHORIZE, OR RAISE STATE TAXES OR FEES
Both State Senate and House would need two-thirds of their members to pass a bill to enact a new tax or fee or increase an existing one. It would also stop state legislature from raising taxes or fees by adding it to other state bills.
Vote yes: If you want it to be harder for state legislature to agree on new taxes or fees.
Vote no: The law would stay the same and simply require a majority vote to change taxes or fees.
Amendment 6 – RIGHTS OF CRIME VICTIMS; JUDGES
A “bundled” amendment where unrelated items are on one proposal. 1) Creates a bill of rights for crime victims. 2) Raises retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. 3) New guidelines for how judges rule in cases about state agencies.
Vote yes: For more victims rights but also higher ages for judges and rulings on interpretations of state agencies.
Vote no: If you are confused by bundling or disagree with an individual portion of the “bundle.”
Amendment 7 – FIRST RESPONDER AND MILITARY MEMBER SURVIVOR BENEFITS; PUBLIC COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES
Another “bundled” amendment where unrelated items are on one proposal. 1) More death benefits for spouses of first responders, including paramedics and military, who died on duty. 2) Changing the way colleges impose student fees and make state colleges a part of the state constitution.
Vote yes: If families of first responders need more compensation and colleges need more government guidelines.
Vote no: If either move doesn’t make sense to you.
Amendment 8 – Another bundled amendment was removed.
Amendment 9 – PROHIBITS OFFSHORE OIL AND GAS DRILLING; PROHIBITS VAPING IN ENCLOSED INDOOR WORKPLACES
Another bundled amendment of two completely unrelated issues. It can ban customers or employees from using e-cigarettes indoors but also ban oil drilling within nine miles of the Florida coast.
Vote yes: If you are against vaping indoors and offshore drilling
Vote no: If vapers have rights but so does big oil.
Amendment 10 – STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE AND OPERATION**
This bundles four unrelated topics. 1) Dictates the dates the legislature meets. 2) Creates an Office of Domestic Security within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. 3) Makes a state Department of Veteran Affairs. 4) Requires all counties to elect all constitutional officers such as property appraisers, tax collector, clerk of court and supervisor of elections.
Vote yes: If you agree with all topics and officials being elected, not appointed.
Vote no: If bundling still makes you want to…
Amendment 11 – PROPERTY RIGHTS; REMOVAL OF OBSOLETE PROVISION; CRIMINAL STATUTES
Another bundled amendment. 1) Stops the state’s ability to prohibit “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from buying, owning or selling property. 2) Deleting language about the high speed rail from state constitution. 3) Allows legislators to change criminal law retroactively.
Vote yes: If you can understand it.
Vote no:. If you can’t.
Amendment 12 –LOBBYING AND ABUSE OF OFFICE BY PUBLIC OFFICERS
Expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees. Public officials cannot both during their term, and for six years after, lobby for compensation. Currently, they are banned for only two years.
Vote yes: To stop politicians from receiving disproportionate benefits and lobbying for compensation for longer than two years.
Vote no: To let it stay as is at two years.
Amendment 13 – ENDS DOG RACING
This would ban greyhound racing in the state of Florida.
Vote yes: If you want to ban greyhound racing and end the dog racing industry as a whole.
Vote no: If you want to keep the industry, which is also tied to gaming.
**Hot button issues: Amendment 4 has been vocally supported by local activists, Amendment 10 has been vocally supported by local law enforcement.