TALLAHASSEE — Faced with the longest list of proposed constitutional changes in two decades, Floridians voted Tuesday to approve all but one of the 12 constitutional amendments on the midterm ballot, clearing the 60 percent threshold required to pass.
Amendment 1, which would have raised the portion of a home’s value that can be exempted from non-school property taxes, did not pass with a total vote of 58 percent.
The Legislature voted to refer the exemption to the ballot in 2017, and the changes would have applied to the assessed value of a homestead property between $100,000 and $125,000, raising the maximum exemption to $75,000. Homeowners would would have saved a couple hundred dollars with the change, effective Jan. 1, though a legislative staff analysis had estimated local governments — which rely on property taxes for revenue — would lose about $645 million in the first year if approved.
Amendment 4, the landmark proposal that would restore felons' voting rights with some exceptions, passed with 64 percent voter approval.
- Amendment 13, a highly charged proposal to end greyhound racing in Florida, did pass Tuesday night, thanks to millions funneled into campaigns for and against the measure. Its passage means the roughly dozen racing tracks in Florida will have to shutter by 2020.
- Amendment 5, which passed, was also proposed by lawmakers this year and would require a two-thirds super-majority vote in the Legislature to impose, approve or raise state taxes and fees. The higher threshold means it will take only a third of members in either the state House or Senate to block any future tax increases or repeal existing exemptions. The idea, floated by Gov. Rick Scott last year, will also stop any provisions to raise taxes or fees from being tacked onto other state bills, though not applicable to any fees or taxes that would be levied by local governments or agencies, such as school districts.
- Amendment 9, one of the more contentious bundled amendments from the CRC, tethered a ban on oil and gas drilling in state-owned waters with a proposal to add vaping to the ban on smoking indoors. Voters chose to pass the amendment Tuesday. The decision was among those that were belatedly decided by the state Supreme Court last month, which chose to retain it and two other bundled amendments on the ballot, though ballots had already been printed before that date.
- Amendment 10 linked four proposals: one to have the state’s legislative session start in January rather than March in even-numbered years (the legislature currently changes its dates by statute), two that would create a counter-terrorism office and make the state veterans affairs department constitutionally required, and a proposal that would require five county-level offices to be elected. Voters passed the measure by 63 percent.
The last proposal would affect sheriffs, tax collectors, property appraisers, supervisors of elections and clerks of circuit court. It had particular relevance for the state’s most populous county, Miami-Dade, which is the only county that does not elect a sheriff and instead has an appointed police director.
- Amendment 11, which passed, sought to revise the Constitution to remove some language, including a provision that stops “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning property and wording approving a high-speed rail system. It also proposed removing the state’s Savings Clause, which prohibits retroactively applying the amendment of a criminal statute to sentencing for a crime committed before the change, though the amendment clarified that repealing a criminal statute would not necessarily affect the prosecution of that crime committed previously.
- Amendment 12 sought to bar public officials from lobbying both during their terms and for six years following, and restrict current public officers from using their office for personal gain. Voters chose to pass the single-subject proposal Tuesday.