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Pasco Democrats urge 11 'no's before the final 'yes'

This November, Pasco Democrats want voters to say "no" on 11 ballot issues in a row — before finally saying "yes."

The county Democratic Party voted this week to oppose all of the Legislature's ballot amendments, calling them bad policy pushed by Republican lawmakers. But the party supports renewing the Penny for Pasco sales tax, which lands at the tail end of a two-page ballot.

Party chairman Lynn Lindeman acknowledged the tough logistical dance for weary voters.

"That's not good for the Penny for Pasco," he said. "The Penny for Pasco is very important. I'm afraid it's going to get lost in the mass of legislative amendments."

(Supporters take the burial in stride, saying the ballot "saved the best for last.")

Lawmakers sponsored questions on a variety of issues: property tax exemptions, the federal health care law and judicial appointments. Other amendments cover abortion, state money for religious schools and even the composition of the university Board of Governors. All the changes would be added to the Florida Constitution.

The Legislature is exempt from a 75-word limit placed on citizen groups that sponsor ballot issues. Some of the questions on this year's ballot are quite long, and there's enough complicated jargon to make a lawyer wince. And that comes after wading through choices for federal offices, county races and up-or-down votes on a host of judges.

Lindeman worries voters will simply give up and skip the ballot initiatives entirely. He said that could make it easier for them to pass. Constitutional amendments must clear a 60 percent barrier — but that threshold doesn't factor in people who skipped voting on the issue.

"Only the people that really have a defined interest in it tend to vote," he said. "It sort of stacks the deck for having the ballot initiatives approved."

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Your guide to the amendments

A closer look at the 11 proposed changes to the Florida Constitution is at tampabay.com/amendments.

Pasco Democrats urge 11 'no's before the final 'yes' 09/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 1:41pm]
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