The 2018 midterm ballot, in addition to featuring household names like Rick Scott and Andrew Gillum, also has 12 amendments up for passing. The amendments range from the obscure to prominent, where one proposal prohibits vaping indoors, another will restore the voting rights of 1.5 million former felons.
Five of these proposals contain multiple changes, meaning people must vote for or against proposals in batches. This grouping is controversial because some critics say more popular proposals help less supported changes succeed, according to the Miami Herald.
Amendment 1, Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, will raise the proportion of a home’s value that is exempted from non-school property taxes. This would apply to homes that are assessed to be above $100,000.
This proposal will save property owners a few hundred dollars, but local governments of Florida will lose around $645 million in the first year if passed, according to an analysis from the House of Representatives.
Amendment 2, Limitations on Property Tax Assessments, will cement the current provisions that limit property taxes from going above 10 percent on specified non-homestead real property, like rental and commercial property, except for school district taxes, each year. This would secure more money for businesses and renters, but local governments would have less income.
Amendment 3, Voter Control of Gambling in Florida, will give voters the exclusive right to authorize the expansions of casino gambling. Currently, voters and lawmakers have the right to confirm expansions. This proposal does not conflict with federal law regarding state and tribal compacts.
Amendment 4, Voting Restoration Amendment, will restore the voting rights of former felons if they served their time, exempting those who committed crimes like murder or sex offences. If passed, 1.5 million people could get the right to vote in local, state and presidential elections.
In the present system, felons have to wait five years before they can be considered for voter restoration. After those five years, a state clemency board must consider each request during its four meetings a year.
Amendment 5, Super-majority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees, will require a super-majority, two-thirds of a vote, to impose, approve or raise state taxes or fees. Also, the bill must have one subject, meaning any provision cannot be attached to other state bills.
Amendment 6, Rights of Crime Victims; Judges, contains three changes. The first proposal creates a bill of rights for crime victims and new requirements for judges. According to the Miami Herald, this section has support from both parties, but is criticized because the way that victims’ rights are drawn might put too many responsibilities on the justice system. The second proposal raises the age of mandatory retirement for judges from 70 to 75. The third requires judges and hearing officers to independently interpret a statute, or rule, rather than looking at a government agency’s interpretation.
Amendment 7, First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities, also contains three proposals. The first will provide tuition to survivors of first responders and military members killed on duty. The second will require university trustees to have a two-thirds majority to raise college fees, not including tuition.
The third will create a state college, or community college, system in the Florida Constitution, like the one for state universities. Each institution would be required to have a local board of trustees that are appointed by the governor and approved the state senate.
Amendment 8, School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools, was struck from the ballot on Sept. 7. The League of Women Voters sued to have the amendment taken off ballots because the title and summary did not meet the required standard.
Amendment 9, Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces, would ban oil and gas drilling in state-owned waters and prohibit vaping indoors. Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled in early September that this and two other amendments should be struck from the ballot. The ruling is currently being appealed by the state.
Amendment 10, State and Local Government Structure and Operation, has four proposals.
One would have the state legislature start in January instead of March in even-numbered years. Another would make a counter-terrorism office. The third would make the state veterans affairs office constitutionally required. The last would require five county-level offices be elected in each county.
Critics, such as the League of Women Voters, said these provisions could be enacted through law and are unnecessary on the ballot.
Amendment 11, Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes, would revise some discriminatory language in the Constitution, like calling illegal immigrants ‘aliens,’ according to the Miami Herald.
This proposal also deletes the provision that an amendment to a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of a crime committed before the amendment, but keeps the provision that repealing the criminal statute does not affect a crime committed before the amendment.
Amendment 12, Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers, restricts public officials from lobbying during their terms and the six years following and restricts current public officers from using their office for personal gain.
Amendment 13, Ends Dog Racing, would end commercial dog racing involving wagering by 2020. There are eleven tracks in Florida, including one in St. Petersburg.