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Amendments | Election 2010

Amendments

Amendment 1 | Amendment 2 | Amendment 4 | Amendments 5 and 6 | Amendment 8

Amendment 1: Public campaign finance

Sponsor: Florida Legislature

Source: Professor Daniel Smith

Ballot Summary: 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.

Translation: Currently, Florida’s state constitution allows gubernatorial candidates and candidates for state cabinet offices to receive public funds that ensure their campaign finances match those of their opponents. This amendment asks the state legislature to drop this provision, thus ending the public subsidy for state campaigns. Candidates would not be required to receive a set amount of public financing for the election and would not have campaign spending limits. This would increase the influence of special interests in elections.

Proponents: The amendment was sponsored by the Florida State Legislature. Proponents argue that, given the current state of Florida’s economy, it cannot afford to take public money and use it to fund campaigns.
Opponents: Opponents argue that providing candidates with public funds helps to level the playing field during statewide races.
By Carolyn Tillo and Kendall McCrory

Amendment 2: Property tax break for the military

Sponsor: Florida Legislature

Source: Professor Daniel Smith

Ballot Language: 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 the Legislature. 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.

Translation: The Florida Legislature, controlled by Republicans, put this amendment on the ballot with the support of state Democrats. This amendment would give military who were deployed during the previous calendar year, a break on their property taxes the following year according to the amount of days they were out of the country. Amendment 2 has not received voiced opposition from any member of the Florida House or Senate.

Critics argue that this amendment is only helping members of the military who have property, not those who are renting property. Opponents also argue that this amendment will reduce the amount of property that is taxable for local governments, thus limiting their ability to generate revenue.

By Carolyn Tillo and Kendall McCrory

Amendment 4: Commercial land use

Sponsor: Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc., PAC

Source: Professor Daniel Smith

Ballot Language: 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.

Translation: Currently, city and county commissioners in Florida vote about changes in the way land is used within their jurisdictions. Amendment 4 would require residents to vote on a referendum, in addition to the already-needed government approval, for land and building plans in a community. This amendment would add time to the development process and give residents the final say.

Proponents: Proponents argue that the current policy makes it too easy for officials to change the way land is used. They argue that some officials vote to serve the interests of developers.

Opponents: The Florida Chamber of Commerce and realtors and homebuilders in Florida oppose this amendment. They are concerned that requiring a public vote for changes in land use will slow the development process and lead to economic stagnation and job loss.
By Carolyn Tillo and Kendall McCrory

Amendments 5 and 6: Congressional and legislative voting districts

Source: Professor Daniel Smith

Amendments 5 and 6 seek to prevent gerrymandering, or the unfair drawing of Florida’s legislative and congressional voting districts.

Proponents: Fair Districts Florida, a nonpartisan citizen group in Florida, sponsored these amendments to ensure that voting districts are not drawn to favor one party over another.
Opponents: Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart expressed their disapproval of amendments 5 and 6 in articles in The Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel. They say that redrawing the boundaries will result in less minority representation in legislative and congressional districts, noting that minority voter populations cannot always be contained within neatly drawn districts.
By Carolyn Tillo and Kendall McCrory

Amendment 8: Public school class sizes

Source: League of Women Voters; interview with Nykki Barnes, president of the Alachua County Council PTA

Ballot Language: 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 though 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.

Translation: Amendment 8 would make class size requirements based on a grade-wide average as opposed to by class, allowing class sizes to increase (by no more than 5 students). If Amendment 8 does not pass, the 2002 class size change (which was put into effect August 2010) will stand and the Legislature will be discouraged from making efforts to get rid of the 2002 class size legislation in the future. This legislation requires the State and school district to pay a fine for every student over the limit per classroom.

Proponents: State Republicans placed this amendment on the ballot, arguing that current class-size limits are too expensive.

Opponents: Teachers’ unions and the Alachua County Council Parent Teacher Association oppose the amendment because larger class sizes mean less individual attention for students.
By Carolyn Tillo and Kendall McCrory