General Election: All Amendments Approved Except 1
Dog racing, vaping in the workplace and oil drilling in state waters will now be illegal.
By D’Ann Lawrence White, Patch Staff | | Updated
TALLAHASSEE, FL — Dog racing, vaping in the workplace and oil drilling in state waters will now be illegal.
On Tuesday, voters approved 11 of the 12 constitutional amendments on the Florida ballot. The only amendment that didn’t received the 60 percent majority needed to pass was Amendment 1, which increased the homestead property tax exemption.
Here are the official statewide returns on those ballot questions:
Amendment 1 — Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption — FAILED
Yes 58.1 percent, 4,522,859 vote
No 41.9 percent, 3,262,900 votes
This amendment was placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature after a vote during the 2017 legislative session.
This amendment proposes to increase the homestead exemption by exempting the assessed value of homestead property greater than $100,000 and up to $125,000 for taxes except school district taxes. If approved, the exemption will take effect Jan. 1.
Proponents say it would save homeowners money and possibly convince those now renting homes to purchase property.
Opponents say municipal and county governments would lose taxes needed to fund public services. The Florida Legislature estimated Florida’s local governments would lose more than $600 million in tax revenues the first year.
Amendment 2 — Limitations on Property Tax Assessments — PASSED
Yes 66.6 percent, 5,116,423 votes
No 33.5 percent, 2,579,422 votes
Also placed on the ballot by the State Legislature, this amendment would permanently maintain the 10 percent annual cap on property tax assessments approved by voters in 2008. That cap limits assessments on certain non-homestead properties.
Proponents say it would lower the tax bills for owners of non-homesteaded properties and generate economic growth.
Opponents, once again, say it will decrease essential funds needed by local governments.
Amendment 3 — Voter Control of Gambling in Florida — PASSED
Yes 71.5 percent, 5,625,466 votes
No 28.5 percent, 2,247,468 votes
This is a citizen’s initiative that would give Florida voters, rather than the State Legislature, the right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling beyond the gambling operations now allowed on tribal lands by federal law.
The amendment would allow pro- and anti-gambling voters to vote their conscience when it comes to expanding casinos and slots beyond tribal reservations.
The measure was placed on the ballot via a petition drive by Voters In Charge, a PAC financed by Disney Worldwide Services Inc. and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Image via Casinogambling.org
Amendment 4 — Voting Restoration Amendment — PASSED
Yes 64.5 percent, 5,097,761 votes
No 35.5 percent, 2,808,846 votes
Also a citizen-driven initiative, passage of this amendment would reinstate voting rights of convicted felons after they have finished their sentences including parole and probation. However, it would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses.
Many people believe that a person who has paid the penalty for a crime deserves to have his or her voting rights restored. Others believe they forfeited that right forever by committing a crime.
Amendment 5 — Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize or Raise State Taxes or Fees — PASSED
Yes 65.8 percent, 5,123,016 votes
No 34.2 percent, 2,667,312 votes
Place on the ballot by the Florida Legislature, passage of this amendment would prohibit the State Legislature from imposing or raising a state tax or fee unless approved by a two-thirds majority of the House and the Senate. Currently, a simple majority if required to impose or raise a tax or fee.
It does not apply to fees or taxes imposed by the Florida Constitution or local municipalities.
Proponents argue that the amendment would make it more difficult for the Legislature to impose fees and taxes, thereby keeping Florida’s taxes low. Opponents say it would put a crimp in the state’s ability to raise taxes to meet crises such as hurricanes and recessions.
Amendment 6: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges — PASSED
Yes 61.6 percent, 4,796,541 votes
No 38.4 percent, 2,986,842 votes
You may have seen the television commercials on Amendment 5 starring actor Kelsey Grammer.
Also referred to as Marsy’s Law, Amendment 6 would expand the rights of crime victims to have a voice in what happens to those who committed crimes against them.
The Emmy-winning actor says his father was shot and killed at the age of 38, and he found out about his killer’s release through an article in the National Inquirer. Six years later, his 18-year-old sister was raped and murdered, but victims rights laws has allowed him to participate in parole proceedings and other legal processes for his sister’s killers.
It also raises the mandatory retirement age of state justices and judges from 70 to 75 years old.
In addition to Florida, Grammer is appearing in commercials proposing similar amendments in North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Nevada.
The law was named for a California college student named Marsy Nicholas who was murdered in 1983. Victims already have rights in the Florida Constitution and other state statutes, but this measure expands a victim’s access to notification of criminal proceedings, investigations and reports.
Opponents say the law is redundant. Victims already have these rights. And they fear changing the retirement age for judges would take those decisions out of the hands of the governmental agencies that oversee them.
Amendment 7 — First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits;
Public Colleges and Universities — PASSED
Yes 65.8 percent, 5,105,738 votes
No 34.2 percent, 2,657,327 votes
The Florida Legislature authorized this proposed revision to the State Constitution to give mandatory death benefits and waivers of certain educational expenses to the survivors of first responders and military members who died in the line of duty.
The amendment also requires a supermajority vote of university trustees and the state university system board of governors to increase fees at universities.
Proponents say it would give deserving survivors a constitutional guarantee of benefits and prevent university from routinely raising student fees.
Opponents say family members are already compensated by the federal government and these benefits don’t belong in the State Constitution.
Amendment 9 — Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces — PASSED
Yes 68.8 percent, 5,362,586 votes
No 31.2 percent 2,428,504 votes
This Legislature-authorized constitutional revision has many voters scratching their heads, wondering why vaping would be lumped in with offshore drilling.
The proposed amendment would prohibit drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state-owned waters. Additionally, it would prevent employees from using vapor-generating electronic devices in indoor workplaces.
Proponents of off-shore drilling say the amendment would prevent devastating ecological impacts to coastal waters caused by drilling operations and possible spills.
Proponents of prohibiting vaping in the workplace say the current trend of using vaping machines or e-cigarettes is just as offensive as smoking.
Opponents say there are already federal restrictions on drilling in state-owned waters and the proposal will not affect the ability of the federal government to permit drilling off the coast.
Opponents of vaping restrictions argue that this is a ploy by the tobacco industry to make it difficult for people who cast off smoking in favor of the less harmful habit of vaping.
Vaping machines are battery-operated and have a heating element that vaporizes a liquid nicotine solution, which users inhale into their lungs. Advocates say vaping doesn’t cause the health problems cigarettes cause and is harmless to bystanders because the solutions don’t contain the tar and other harmful carcinogens that cigarettes have.
However, the jury is still out on this new technology. The World Health Organization has concluded that vaping is much less harmful than smoking but there has yet to be a definitive study. In fact, the Journal of Public Health Policy says “a preponderance of the available evidence shows [e-cigarettes] to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products.”
In any case, opponents of Amendment 9 say oil drilling and vaping restrictions have no place in the Florida Constitution.
Image via Vaping360
Amendment 10 — State and Local Government Structure and Operation — PASSED
Yes 63.2 percent, 4,809,882 votes
No 36.8 percent, 2,801,126 votes
A Legislature-authorized revision, passage of this amendment would require the Legislature to retain the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, ensure the continued election of county sheriffs, property appraisers, supervisors of elections, tax collectors and clerks of court and removed the ability of county chargers to abolish or change these duties of these elected constitutional officers.
Approval of the amendment also would create an office of domestic security and counter-terrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and changes the starting date for the legislative session to the second Tuesday in January.
While the Department of Veteran’s Affairs already exists, it is not constitutionally mandated. This would ensure that the department can not be dissolved. It would also guarantee the election of county constitutional officers.
But opponents say the proposed amendment is designed to weaken the authority of county governments.
Image via Chad Chronister
Amendment 11– Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes — PASSED
Yes 61.7 percent, 4,618,861 votes
No 38.3 percent, 2,868,430 votes
This amendment would remove discriminatory language regarding real property rights and would remove obsolete language in the Constitution.
Underneath the rhetoric and legalese, the amendment is designed to repeal bans on aliens owning property in the state and takes the approval of high-speed rail systems out of the Constitution.
Proponents say the amendment removes the requirement that suspects in crimes be prosecuted under the provisions of the law, even if those laws have been changed.
Critics say the Constitutional Revision Commission has again bundled unrelated issues into a single amendment and it have no place in the State Constitution.
Amendment 12: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers — PASSED
Yes 78.9 percent, 6,063,717 votes
No 21.1 percent, 1,620,318 votes
Again placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission, this amendment would expand current restrictions on lobbying for compensation by former public officials. Officials would not be able to lobby for money for six years after leaving office.
Proponents said this would limit the political influence of former public officials by preventing them from using the relationships and contacts they developed while serving in government to impact legislation.
Opponents contend it’s an unfair barrier to public officials being able to earn a livelihood in their areas of expertise after leaving government.
Amendment 13 — Ends Dog Racing — PASSED
Yes 69 percent, 5,356,036 votes
No 31 percent, 2,407,618 votes
This amendment forwarded by the Florida Legislature Constitution Revision Commission would phase out gambling on greyhound dog racing by 2020.
Florida is one of only a few states that still allow greyhound dog racing. Proponents of the amendment say it is an inhumane practice. The dogs are treated cruelly, not given proper veterinary care and are over-breeded. Puppies deemed unfit for racing are routinely killed or sent to laboratories to be used in experiments. Those chosen to race are warehoused in double-decker cages for 20-plus hours a day, usually in kennels with no air-conditioning or heat. When injured or declared too old to race, they, too, are routinely eliminated. Humane societies have uncovered mass graves filled with thousands of dogs who were healthy except for a leg injury.
Opponents say the state will lose out on about $1 million in state revenues if greyhound racing is banned.
Image via Stop Greyhound Racing/Ronald Williams
Here is the official and complete listing of the Constitutional Amendments for the 2018 election from the State of Florida’s Division of Election.