By Mickey Spencer
How many people realized how many items (beyond candidates running for office) would be on the ballot in Florida this fall? Read these carefully and make sure you know what you’re voting for (or against).
For instance Amendments 5 & 6 (put forward by the people of Florida) have the basic effect of prohibiting the state from drawing districts so they’d favor one party or candidate over another (prohibits gerrymandering). But because this idea scares professional politicians half out of their mind Amendment 7 (put forward by the state) is on the ballot so they can undo the effect of Amendments 5 and/or 6 should they pass… LOL! What will they think of next?
I’m sure that eventually a guide will be put together indicating recommendations on which to vote for and which to vote against. But for now, it’s up to each of us to read through these items and make sure we’re an informed voting public. Keep in mind that an informed voter scares a professional politician more than anything else.
2010 General Election Amendments
1) REPEAL OF PUBLIC CAMPAIGN FINANCING REQUIREMENT
- Proposing the repeal of the provision in the State Constitution that requires public financing of campaigns of candidates for elective statewide office who agree to campaign spending limits.
2) HOMESTEAD AD VALOREM TAX CREDIT FOR DEPLOYED MILITARY PERSONNEL
- Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require the Legislature to provide an additional homestead property tax exemption by law for members of the United States military or military reserves, the United States Coast Guard or its reserves, or the Florida National Guard who receive a homestead exemption and were deployed in the previous year on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by theLegislature. The exempt amount will be based upon the number of days in the previous calendar year that the person was deployed on active duty outside the continental United States, Alaska, or Hawaii in support of military operations designated by the Legislature. The amendment is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2011.
3) PROPERTY TAX LIMIT FOR NONHOMESTEAD PROPERTY; ADDITIONAL HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION FOR NEW HOMESTEAD OWNERS
- The State Constitution generally limits the maximum annual increase in the assessed value of nonhomestead property to 10 percent annually. This proposed amendment reduces the maximum annual increase in the assessed values of those properties to 5 percent annually. This amendment also requires the Legislature to provide an additional homestead exemption for persons who have not owned a principal residence during the preceding 8 years. Under the exemption, 25 percent of the just value of a first-time homestead, up to $100,000, will be exempt from property taxes. The amount of the additional exemption will decrease in each succeeding year for 5 years by the greater of 20 percent of the initial additional exemption or the difference between the just value and the assessed value of the property. The additional exemption will not be available in the 6th and subsequent years.
4) REFERENDA REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION AND AMENDMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMPREHENSIVE LAND USE PLANS.
- Establishes that before a local government may adopt a new comprehensive land use plan, or amend a comprehensive land use plan, the proposed plan or amendment shall be subject to vote of the electors of the local government by referendum, following preparation by the local planning agency, consideration by the governing body and notice. Provides definitions.
5) STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN LEGISLATIVE REDISTRICTING
- Legislative districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
6) STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING
- Congressional districts or districting plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. Districts shall not be drawn to deny racial or language minorities the equal opportunity to participate in the political process and elect representatives of their choice. Districts must be contiguous. Unless otherwise required, districts must be compact, as equal in population as feasible, and where feasible must make use of existing city, county and geographical boundaries.
7) STANDARDS FOR LEGISLATURE TO FOLLOW IN LEGISLATIVE AND CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING
- In establishing congressional and legislative district boundaries or plans, the state shall apply federal requirements and balance and implement the standards in the State Constitution. The state shall take into consideration the ability of racial and language minorities to participate in the political process and elect candidates of their choice, and communities of common interest other than political parties may be respected and promoted, both without subordination to any other provision of Article III of the State Constitution. Districts and plans are valid if the balancing and implementation of standards is rationally related to the standards contained in the State Constitution and is consistent with federal law.
8) REVISION OF THE CLASS SIZE REQUIREMENTS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
- The Florida Constitution currently limits the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms in the following grade groupings: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 18 students; for grades 4 through 8, 22 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 25 students. Under this amendment, the current limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in public school classrooms would become limits on the average number of students assigned per class to each teacher, by specified grade grouping, in each public school. This amendment also adopts new limits on the maximum number of students assigned to each teacher in an individual classroom as follows: for prekindergarten through grade 3, 21 students; for grades 4 through 8, 27 students; and for grades 9 through 12, 30 students. This amendment specifies that class size limits do not apply to virtual classes, requires the Legislature to provide sufficient funds to maintain the average number of students required by this amendment, and schedules these revisions to take effect upon approval by the electors of this state and to operate retroactively to the beginning of the 2010-2011 school year.
9) HEALTH CARE SERVICES
- Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect the doctor-patient relationship, guard against mandates that don’t work, prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person, employer, or health care provider to participate in any health care system; permit a person or an employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from a health care provider; permit a health care provider to accept direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and fines for paying directly or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; and permit the purchase or sale of health insurance in private health care systems. Specifies that the amendment does not affect which health care services a health care provider is required to perform or provide; affect which health care services are permitted by law; prohibit care provided pursuant to general law relating to workers’ compensation; affect laws or rules in effect as of March 1, 2010; affect the terms or conditions of any health care system to the extent that those terms and conditions do not have the effect of punishing a person or an employer for paying directly for lawful health care services or a health care provider for accepting direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; or affect any general law passed by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature, passed after the effective date of the amendment, provided such law states with specificity the public necessity justifying the exceptions from the provisions of the amendment. The amendment expressly provides that it may not be construed to prohibit negotiated provisions in insurance contracts, network agreements, or other provider agreements contractually limiting copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other patient charges.
2010 General Election Referendums
1) Balancing the Federal Budget. – A Nonbinding Referendum Calling for an Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- In order to stop the uncontrolled growth of our national debt and prevent excessive borrowing by the Federal Government, which threatens our economy and national security, should the United States Constitution be amended to require a balanced federal budget without raising taxes?
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