Following up on my post for Florida state-wide contests, I wanted to make sure the summary of the Florida Amendments was captured. I have gone to the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel to capture their thoughts. As of today, the Miami Herald has only opined on Amendments 4, 5, 6 and Amendment 8.
Amendment 1 – Florida Campaign Finance Requirement Repeal
Summary: In short: currently the state is required to provide funding for candidates that agree to spending limits. This amendment would eliminate public financing of campaigns. (see text)
Sun-Sentinel: VOTE NO
When the Legislature asks you, the voters, whether you really meant it when you passed a constitutional amendment, you have reason for skepticism.
So, be very skeptical of Amendment 1, an item on next month’s ballot that would repeal an earlier amendment and remove very limited state-funded public campaign finance from the Florida Constitution.
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board recommends a no vote on Amendment 1.
VOTE NO – the idea to maintain a relatively equal playing field is important – especially when we want to allow others to run aside from insane multi-millionaires like Mr. Scott.
Amendment 2 – Florida Military Homestead Property Tax Exemption
Summary: In short: a property tax cut for service men and women who were deployed in the year prior to claiming the exemption.(see text)
Sun-Sentinel: VOTE YES
The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board recommends a “yes” vote on Amendment 2, which would make a constitutional change awarding an additional homestead tax break to deployed military personnel.
The new exemption would apply to Florida members of the U.S. military, U.S. Coast Guard and Florida National Guard who served on active duty outside the continental United States during the prior year. The amount exempted would vary depending on the number of days military personnel were deployed. Those getting the additional exemption must already be receiving a standard homestead exemption.
Military personnel serving overseas often have trouble maintaining their properties while they are away. The additional exemption would help them better manage that problem, and that in turn would be good for overall property values in their neighborhoods. That’s a win-win for everyone.
VOTE YES – echoing the Sun Sentinel’s statement, we owe a huge debt to people who lay their lives on the line for our country and for the rest of us, so that we can live our lives in freedom and with an abundance of opportunity. I would support this amendment.
Amendment 4 – Florida Hometown Democracy Land Use
Summary:This amendment would require that residents vote on any land use changes before any changes can be made. These votes would be required several times a year and would be funded by the local taxpayers.(see text)
Sun-Sentinel: VOTE NO
When you first hear about Amendment 4, the Hometown Democracy ballot proposal that would require public votes on changes to local growth plans, your gut tells you, “Yeah, I can see the point of voting for that.”
It sounded good. But that’s about it. Once you look into it, you will quickly realize what a disaster Hometown Democracy would be for Florida.
Granted, the repeated refusal of local governments to honor their comprehensive plans for growth has resulted in the approval of far too many developments that strain local resources, harm wildlife and feed sprawl. And if Hometown Democracy were to pass, it’s quite possible the public would reject some unnecessary projects that developer-smitten officials would embrace.
But the cost of implementing Hometown Democracy would overwhelm Floridians. Its benefits are fewer than advertised. And the unbridled growth that gave rise to it has ebbed. Voters should reject it.
Miami Herald: VOTE NO
We have long fought against land-use decisions that simply encourage sprawl and make taxpayers pay for new roads and classrooms that construction demands but doesn’t finance. While Amendment 4 purports to be the solution to politicians’ bad land-use decisions, it isn’t really. It will cost taxpayers an undetermined amount of money over time and hinder the urban-planning process.
VOTE NO – again, echoing the Sun Sentinel’s statement, the cost of implementing Hometown Democracy would overwhelm Floridians. Its benefits are fewer than advertised. And the unbridled growth that gave rise to it has ebbed. I would reject this amendment.
Amendments 5 & 6 – Florida Legislative and Congressional District Boundaries Amendment(s)
Summary: These amendments would require that districts be drawn by an independent panel in such a way that would not favor either political party. It would also require that districts be drawn to fit already existing boundaries as much as possible (county lines and city limits for example). In short, this would assure fair representation for all residents of Florida based on communities and common interest. (see Amendment 5 text) and (see Amendment 6 text)
Sun-Sentinel: VOTE YES
They say Fair Districts is unworkable. Translation: Not in the lawmakers’ best interests.
And they say it would significantly harm minority representation in Florida. That’s simply not true.
If Amendments 5 and 6 passed, here’s what they’d do: They’d require lawmakers to draw up legislative and congressional districts that are contiguous, compact and that respect city and county boundaries.
The exception would be where doing so would compromise minority representation.
If anything, the Fair Districts amendments would enhance minority representation. They note that no districts “shall be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or to diminish their ability to elect representatives of their choice.”
Miami Herald: VOTE YES
The only Floridians who seem to oppose Amendments 5 and 6 are incumbent politicians. That’s because the amendments would put Floridians’ interests before those of elected officials in the redistricting process.
If the amendments pass, the Legislature would still redraw the political boundaries but, for the first time, lawmakers would have to follow these rules. In 2002 the Florida Supreme Court decided that, yes, many of the state’s political districts are gerrymandered, but there is no state or federal law for the court to rule that a violation was committed. Amendments 5 and 6 would remedy that.
VOTE YES – these amendments I strongly support.
Amendment 8 – Florida Class Size Amendment
Summary: In 2002, voters passed an amendment to limit class sizes. This means that by this fall in grades K-3 there should be no more than 18 students per class, in grades 4-8 no more than 22 students, and in high school no more than 25 students per class. This amendment would eliminate the class size limit and create an increased “average” class size limit of 21 for K-3, 27 for 4-8, and 30 for 9-12. As an average it means that, for example, if a high school teacher has two classes and one class has 5 students and the other has 55 (5+55 = 60. 60/2=30) then this would meet the average class size requirement. (see text)
Sun-Sentinel: VOTE YES
It’s unwise to put political policy matters into the Florida Constitution. Proof of that lies in a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2002. It required, on a phased-in basis, strict class-size limits in public schools.
The final phase of the amendment took effect this year, and it is poised to cause chaos in schools throughout Florida, as predicted by opponents eight years ago. Meanwhile, children are shunted from one classroom to another to meet arbitrary class-size numbers. School districts are scrambling to hire more teachers, but can’t find enough who are qualified to teach science and math.
What a mess. The problem can be partly alleviated, however. Amendment 8, on the Nov. 2 ballot, would modify class-size rules to give school districts the flexibility they never should have lost. The Sun Sentinel Editorial Board recommends a yes vote on Amendment 8.
Miami Herald: AGAINST
Now the Legislature wants voters to undo another crucial vote on education when 52.4 percent of Florida voters gave the nod in 2002 to the class-size amendment. The 2002 amendment limits the number of students per class to no more than 18 in kindergarten to third grade, 22 students in grades four through eight and 25 students in high school.
The Legislature has put on the ballot a proposal to allow districts to use a “school-wide average” instead of the actual size of core classes, such as math, English and science, to meet the requirements. Proponents argue that districts need flexibility to increase the numbers by three to five more students, depending on the grade. They say the Great Recession has made this new formula imperative.
That argument would carry more weight if the Republican leadership hadn’t been trying to undo the class-size amendment from the beginning. Truth is, this is a political fight between the teachers’ unions and the GOP, but it’s the kids who stand to get hurt.
No opinion yet – I will have to decide at the voting booth.