A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll confirms what critics feared – on a ballot crowded with local, state and Congressional elections, the 13 proposed constitutional amendments voters will be presented on Nov. 6 might get overlooked by many.
According to the Chamber, if the election was held today, only four of the proposed constitutional amendments would garner the 60 percent majority necessary to pass.
“Voter fatigue is certainly a concern,” the Chamber said in a news release about the poll, which was conducted in late May and early June.
In April, the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), a 37-member panel that meets every 20 years to review the state’s constitution, added eight proposed amendments to the five that were already on the November ballot.
All but two of those eight are “bundled,” meaning they contain up to four separate, but somewhat related, propositions within a single ballot measure.
Of those eight proposals added to November’s ballot by the CRC, six – including measures to prohibit near-shore oil drilling and to restrict lobbying by former public officials – would fail.
Among the four that would pass are amendments to increase the homestead exemption, require voters’ approval to expand gambling, and impose term limits on school boards.
Nearly 90 percent of respondents said they plan to vote on each amendment, even if they are not familiar with the proposals now, an indication that some of the lesser-known proposals should fare better as November draws near.
The Chamber included that qualifier in its release, noting “this is before tens of millions of dollars are invested in information campaigns. In other words, these numbers will change as November approaches.”
For now, however, here are the numbers from the Chamber’s poll:
- • Amendment 1 — Yes 67 percent, No 22 percent, Unsure 11 percent. Would provide for a homestead exemption on home values between $100,000 and $125,000, meaning the $25,000 between $100,000 and $125,000 would be exempt from all property taxes other than school district taxes.
- The proposal is popular with voters but, not surprisingly, is opposed by local governments that warn they may need to raise millage rates to offset the increased exemption, cut services, or levy more fees to make up the difference.
- • Amendment 2 — Yes 58 percent, No 20 percent, Unsure 22 percent. Would permanently cap non-homestead property assessments at 10 percent a year.
- The poll validates Florida TaxWatch’s concern that if voters aren’t aware of the proposal, it won’t garner the needed 60 percent majority, costing Florida landowners $700 million a year in tax exemptions.
- Expect Florida Realtors’ and its ’Amendment 2 is for Everybody’ committee to increase its efforts to ensure voters are aware of the proposal as November nears. The committee has raised more than $660,000 since last August.
- • Amendment 3 — Yes 61 percent, No 23 percent, Unsure 15 percent. Would provide voters with the "exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state, removing legislators from the equation.
- As of June 6, Voters in Charge – the group that got the measure on the ballot – had raised $17.41 million in contributions, with Disney ($9.66 million) and the Seminole Tribe of Florida ($6.78 million) the top donors.
- • Amendment 4 – Yes 40 percent, No 17 percent, Unsure 43 percent. Florida is one of four states where convicted felons cannot regain voting rights without the consent of a state board. In February, a federal judge ruled Florida's process violates the First and 14th amendments.
- According to a Washington Economics Group study, restoring felons’ voting rights could add up to $365 million to the state’s annual economy, create 3,800 jobs and increase annual household incomes by $151 millions.
- As of June 6, a support campaign, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, had raised $5.61 million, including $1.72 million from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), to push Amendment 4.
- Floridians For A Sensible Voting Rights Policy opposes restoring felons’ voting rights, but has not registered as a ballot initiative political committee
- • Amendment 5 – Yes 34 percent, No 36 percent, Unsure 30 percent. Would require a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the state Legislature to enact new taxes or fees or increase existing ones.
- If adopted, it would essentially mean a tax could not be increased along a party-line vote unless a single party controlled 27 seats in the Senate and 80 seats in the House.
- • Amendment 6 – Yes 51 percent, No 12 percent, Unsure 37 percent. The CRC voted 34-3 to place this three-pronged measure on the ballot, which would incorporate California’s ‘Marcy Law’ into its crime victims’ rights statutes, extend judges’ mandatory retirement age to 75, and prohibit state courts from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a state statute or rule in lawsuits.
- • Amendment 7 – Yes 80 percent, No 7 percent, Unsure 13 percent. Would require employers to provide death benefits to surviving spouses of first responders and surviving spouses of active-duty U.S. military members accidentally, unlawfully and intentionally killed.
- • Amendment 8 – Yes 75 percent, No 11 percent, Unsure 15 percent. The CRC voted 27-10 to place this measure on the ballot, which asks voters to establish term limits for school board members, to allow a state board rather than local school districts to authorize and administer charter schools, and require schools to develop an expanded civil literacy curriculum.
- As of June 6, there were no ballot measure committees registered in support or opposition to the measure, but the Alliance for Public Education, Florida School Boards Association and Florida Education Association are all critical of the measure – particularly diminishing local control of charter schools – and is expected to mount a more visible campaign after August’s primaries.
- • Amendment 9 – Yes 55 percent, No 31 percent, Unsure 14 percent. The CRC voted 33-3 to place this two-question, one-vote ballot measure on the ballot, which asks voters to ban offshore oil and gas drilling in state waters and ban vaping in indoor workplaces.
- According to the state Division of Elections, there were no ballot measure committees registered in support or opposition to the measure as of June 6, but that is likely to change as November nears.
- • Amendment 10 – Yes 31 percent, No 16 percent, Unsure 53 percent. Would require the Legislature to create a state Department of Veterans Affairs, a state Office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism, require the Legislature to convene its regular sessions on the second Tuesday of January of even-numbered years and prohibit counties from abolishing constitutional offices, such as sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and clerk of the circuit court, and requiring elections for these offices.
- As of June 6, there were no ballot measure committees registered in support or opposition to this CRC-endorsed measure. The only stated opposition is from several local governments, such as Miami-Dade County.
- • Amendment 11 – Yes 38 percent, No 16 percent, Unsure 46 percent. Would repeal a prohibition against aliens owning property, a constitutional requirement for a high-speed ground transportation system and a provision saying that changes to a criminal statute are not retroactive.
- • Amendment 12 – Yes 55 percent, No 18 percent, Unsure 27 percent. Would prohibit public officials from lobbying for six years after leaving office.
- As of June 6, there were no ballot measure committees registered in support or opposition to this rare one-question, one-vote CRC measure, but that could change by fall.
- • Amendment 13 – Yes 47 percent No 36 percent, Unsure 17 percent. The CRC voted 27-10 to place this measure on the ballot, which would ban greyhound dog races at 12 tracks statewide.
A Committee to Support Greyhounds has been formed to oppose the measure while a “Protect Dogs – Yes on 13” campaign supports the measure.