Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Say no to amendments that don't belong on ballot anyway

It is fair to call Mark Sharpe a political wonk, a Tweeter, Facebooker and talker of politics local, state and national. Just this week he was driving his daughter to middle school when he decided to turn around and take her to see Mitt Romney stump in Tampa instead.

Sharpe is a Hillsborough County commissioner and also a Republican. Given all this, you would think he would have much to say about the 11 proposed amendments to our state Constitution tacked onto the ballot by the Republican-controlled Legislature for next Tuesday's presidential election.

But what he has to say is:

No.

Eleven times, no.

But this has little to do with the merits of the amendments, which run roughly the length of Gone With the Wind and deal with everything from property taxes to a break for disabled veterans to abortion funding.

It's because, Sharpe says, legislation doesn't belong in the state Constitution. "Mucking around with the Constitution is no way for a state to govern itself," he says.

My own problems with the disingenuousness of some of those amendments aside, he's right. It's wrong. It doesn't belong.

If you have not yet read through the amendments (which require 60 percent of our vote to pass), you might want to take along a tall Starbucks and a college professor. It's going to be a while.

Be on alert for sneakiness, like the noble-sounding "Religious Freedom" amendment that is actually about repealing a long-standing ban on taxpayer funding for religious groups.

Our Constitution is foundational, meant to guide us. It can change, but it was not meant to be further larded up and thickened with petty partisan measures not easily undone. It is not supposed to be a grab bag of special interests.

But hey, confusion might just get the job done.

This week the Florida League of Women Voters' hotline is fielding thousands of calls. Frustrated voters sometimes take 45 minutes in an earnest effort to understand the amendments. This doesn't say much for politicians respecting the people they serve.

"It is really frustrating to see the Legislature throwing any manner of long, complex, deceptive amendments on the ballot and saying, 'Well, you figure out what it means,' " league president Deirdre Macnab said.

It might be tempting — understandable, even — for a voter to consider skipping all 11 and vote neither yea nor nay. But everyone who does not vote on these amendments hands over power to the ones who do.

No. Eleven times, no.

Me, I am a traditionalist who always votes on Election Day, but this year, I wanted to check out the buzz about early voting. On an early afternoon, the old brick West Tampa library was bustling with people in work uniforms, in ties and in T-shirts, waiting on the old wooden floors to vote.

You couldn't help but notice everyone seemed to be taking a long time working through a ballot that might as well have scrolled down to the floor with those 11 questions that do not belong.

Though really, there could have been just one:

Is it okay for elected officials to pass the buck to voters and clunk up our state Constitution in the process?

And then, we vote accordingly.

Say no to amendments that don't belong on ballot anyway 11/01/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 1, 2012 10:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Clearwater police: Car thief dead after owner fires gun

    Crime

    CLEARWATER — One man is dead after the owner of a car fired shots at the thieves who were stealing it Monday night, police said.

  4. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive

    World

    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  5. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions

    National

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.