Floridians will have 6 constitutional amendments to consider on the November 3rd General Election Ballot. Below is a summary of the amendments.
The Winter Haven Chamber has taken a position on Amendment 2 and that position is to VOTE NO. Explanation below.
Amendment 1 - Citizen Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections
Ballot Language: This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, permanent residents of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.”
What does our Florida constitution require now? Our constitution does already require you to be a citizen to vote. Most find this amendment completely unnecessary. Our current constitution states "Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered." This would change "Every" to "Only a"
Who is behind it? This initiative was pushed by the Florida Citizen Voters, a conservative group who has gained similar wording changes on the ballot in other states across the country.
Amendment 2 - Raising Florida's Minimum Wage (VOTE NO)
Ballot Language: Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.
What is our current minimum wage: $8.56 per hour
Who is behind it? The funds raised to get this amendment on the ballot were raised by Florida for a Fair Wage, led by John Morgan of Morgan and Morgan.
Supporters say: The implementation of a $15 minimum wage would substantially raise the wages of lower-wage workers. Advocates argue that this kind of raise would stimulate growth within their communities because these workers would have more money to spend. There have been many studies that have shown that rent and housing prices have consistently risen, while wages have been stagnant in real dollar terms for nearly 40 2020 FLORIDA AMENDMENT GUIDE | 8 years. Supporters say that the Fair Wage Amendment is the only way to raise workers’ wages to a living wage in the State of Florida. In addition, supporters say that $15 an hour is what workers around the state need to support a family. Additionally, proponents claim that this will lower workers’ dependence on public assistance and would allow the state to spend taxpayer dollars elsewhere. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
Why we are against: A livable wage is extremely important and we are supporters of that. But this particular amendment is flawed for many reasons.
A NO vote would keep the current minimum wage tied to inflation.
A YES vote would incrementally increase the minimum wage until it reaches $15 in 2026 and then increase through inflation thereafter.
Amendment 3 - All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet
Ballot Language- "Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024."
How do we currently vote: We are currently a closed primary state which means that you can only vote for the candidates in your chosen party during the primary election.
Who is behind it? This measure is funded by All Voters Vote Inc. Miguel "Mike" B. Fernandez, the founder of the Immigration Partnership and Coalition (IMPAC) Fund, is the largest donor to All Voters Vote, having given $5.9 million in support of Amendment 3.
Supporters say: Almost a 3rd of Florida's voters are registered either as no-party-affiliation or not with the Democratic or Republican parties. Supporters of the measure believe that by allowing for open primaries you are no longer disenfranchising a 1/3 of the states voters. Many also believe that by making it a contest of the top two vote getters that would force candidates to be less extreme as to appeal to a broader base of voters.
Opponents say: This is one of the few items that Democrats and Republicans are in agreement against. They believe that members of their parties should be able to choose their representative. Since it is the top two vote getters, it could also lead to general elections where both candidates are from one political party. Another issue that those opposed to the open primary system cite is “crossover” voting. That is where someone who is registered with one party will vote for a candidate in another party, typically in an attempt to select a candidate they feel can be beaten more easily, or a candidate that is closer to the center of the political spectrum and may not represent the full beliefs of the party to which they belong. The concern is that the party, and voters registered with the party, do not have their voices heard effectively or their voices will be diluted.(Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
A NO vote leaves our current closed primary system as is.
A YES vote supports establishing a top-two open primary system for primary elections for state legislators, the governor, and cabinet (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture) in Florida.
Amendment 4 - Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
Ballot Language: "Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the State Constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.”
How does it currently work? In Florida, constitutional amendments require a 60% supermajority vote to become effective. This requirement was added to the constitution in 2006.
Who is behind it? Keep Our Constitution Clean PC is behind this initiative.
Supporters say: Proponents of this measure believe that the current process for amending Florida’s Constitution is too easy, and too many constitutional amendments pass without sufficient scrutiny – measures that could either be handled legislatively or which do not have a place in a foundational governing document. There have been 140 amendments to the constitution since it was last ratified in 1968, with an average of four to five amendments every cycle since 2006. This measure would allow more time for arguments to be made for and against a particular proposed amendment. Nevada is the only state that currently has a passit-twice requirement for constitutional amendments. A total of 12 of 14 constitutional amendments passed during the second general election after having passed the first in Nevada. Supporters cite that Amendment 4 would limit the amount of frivolous amendments that get brought forth and are ultimately passed. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
Opponents say: This would make it cost prohibitive for proposed amendments to make it on two election cycles. Opponents believe this amendment strips power from the public and only slows down the process but doesn't prevent measures from ultimately passing and is therefore a waste of time and money.
A No vote continue with our current system of voting once on an amendment for it to become a part of the constitution.
A Yes vote would mean that a voter-approved constitutional amendment would have to be approved by voters at a second general election to become effective.
Amendment 5 - Extend “Save-Our-Homes” Portability Period for Homestead Property Tax Assessment
Ballot language: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective January 1, 2021, to increase, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.”
How does it work now? The current language of the law says that to transfer Save-OurHomes benefits to another home, the resident must have received a homestead exemption as of January 1 of either of the previous two years. As the Tampa Bay Times pointed out in an editorial, this could cause an issue for some homeowners if they sell their house towards the end of one calendar year and their new home is not built by January 1 of the year after the next. In other words, they would have a little over a year to finish their new house to receive the homestead exemption by January 1. This was not the original intent of the exemption when it was passed and thus needs to be amended to better reflect the intentions of the voters. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
Who is behind it? This was an act of the legislature that is required to be ratified by the voters.
Supporters say: This amendment is needed to meet the initial intent of the law. Supporters believe three years should be plenty of time to transfer their benefits.
Opponents say: There is no active opposition right now. Opponents of this amendment could argue that it would decrease local property taxes when they are especially needed right now. The Florida Revenue Estimating Commission has estimated that this measure would decrease local property taxes by an annual $1.8 million in the next fiscal year and would eventually grow to $10.2 million annually. This is money that would go directly to local governments, who best understand the needs of the local communities, and allow them to invest in them. An argument could also be made that two years is an acceptable time period to move from one home to another and to transfer those homestead property savings. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
A Yes vote would extend the portability period to 3 years
A No vote would leave the portability period to 2 years.
Amendment 6 - Homestead Property Tax Discount for Surviving Spouses of Deceased Veterans
Ballot language: “Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran’s surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2021.”
How does it work now? The Florida homestead property tax discount has been in the State Constitution since 1934. In 2006, an amendment passed that allowed veterans 65 or older to have a discount on their homestead property tax exemption in proportion to the amount of disability they receive. This was later extended to include active duty military personnel for time served outside of the U.S. The homestead property tax discount was most recently extended to disabled veterans in 2012. Currently, the exemption ends upon their death and does not extend to the spouse. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
Who is behind it? This bill was sponsored by Winter Haven's representative, Sam Killebrew. As an act of the legislature pertaining to homestead exemption, it is required to be ratified by the voters.
Supporters say: Proponents argue that this amendment would transfer these savings to the surviving spouse until they remarry, sell, or otherwise do away with the property– and better reflects the intent of the policy when enacted. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
Opponents say: There is no active opposition to this amendment. Opponents may claim that this amendment would result in less property tax revenue–especially during a time where property tax revenue is needed in local communities throughout the state. Many local governments are tasked with maintaining many public services with less money being brought in through tax revenue. Opponents could claim that this is another measure that would leave local government with less money to spend for their communities. (Source: James Madison Amendment Guide)
A Yes vote supports allowing a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.
A No vote would mean that the homestead property tax discount may not be transferred to the spouse of a deceased veteran.