NIE Tampa Bay Times Election 2012

2012 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Constitutional amendments: a unique opportunity to rewrite the rules of the game

by Tony Carvajal, COO - chief of staff, Collins Center for Public Policy

Rules. They guide and constrain us daily and too often a good bit of our time- and our student's time- is spent on getting around them. But there are some rules that just can't be broken. In civic life these are enshrined in our Constitution.

Much is made about our right to elect the people who will represent us and design the many laws and rules that we will have to follow. Not enough attention is focused, though, on the people's ability to determine and vote on the rules of the game. Voting on constitutional amendments is a unique opportunity to participate in direct democracy; a unique opportunity to rewrite the rules of the game.

This November, Florida voters will be asked to consider a number of fundamental democratic issues on the ballot. Who should and shouldn't be taxed and where should, or shouldn't, tax dollars be spent? What are fundamental state rights, privacy rights, and individual liberties? What is the appropriate separation of powers between the courts and the legislature? And more.

These are the same questions that we have been trying to clarify since the founding of this democracy and are likely to be dealing with for years to come. It is essential that each and every teacher and student understand the choices before them, not just the immediate impact or what the sound bites tell us but what the future implications are for Florida citizens and the ongoing maintenance of our state.

These amendments will be decided by those that vote for or against them. Skipping them on the ballot just forfeits your right to determine the unchangeable rules we will all be playing under. You won't be able to lobby your elected representatives to change these if you don't like the outcomes so don't miss this chance to understand them and cast an informed vote.

Reading the complete text of the amendments will make it clear how difficult the chore is. But it is something that must be done and for that reason we offer the background information and summaries included here.

Additional Infomation

More information on the proposed Constitutional Amendments.

Tampa Bay Times guide to the amendments.