Amendments 101: What you need to know before heading to the polls
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A panel of four discussed three of the six amendments that will be on Florida’s ballot this election season Tuesday night.
The panelists say amendments, many times, tend to be overlooked.
Liz Joyner, the founder and CEO of the Village Square, says in its 14th year of hosting this forum, the benefit of informing is always the same.
“You go in the voting booth or you look at your ballot, and you see six amendments and you don’t really know where they came from or what they do,” she said.
Carol Weissert, a professor of political science at Florida State University and the moderator of the forum, shared that many people forget to do research on the amendments.
“They are at the bottom of the ballot and a lot of times people don’t know how to vote on them so they skip them, even though they are really important,” Weissert said.
So, before you head to the ballot box, let’s take a closer look:
It calls to amend a section of the constitution. Currently, the Florida Constitution says, “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.” The amendment is asking for it to change to “Only a citizen of the United States...”
The panel did not discuss this Amendment but did point out that it will have no legal impact, as current Florida law already prohibits non-citizens from voting. However, not every state in the US does, therefore proponents believe this language will make it clearer in differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Two other states, also have this amendment on the ballot
Amendment 2 proposes increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour by the year 2026. If passed, starting on September 30 of 2021, every year would mean a dollar increase in the hourly amount, until $15 is reached in 2026.
Every year after that, the amount will be re-evaluated.
Currently, the Sunshine State’s minimum wage sits at $8.56 an hour. Patricia Brigham, with the League of Women Voters of Florida, shares, “How can you possibly support yourself but a family on that amount? You would have to work multiple jobs.”
Those opposed, like Robert Weissert, the Vice President of Florida Taxwatch, are concerned about the change’s impact on Florida’s economy, which could potentially lead to job loss and an increase in the cost of living.
“They lose some of their buying power," explained Robert Weissert, "There are some people who will lose their jobs outright, and then there are some people who are on fixed incomes, especially seniors, who now have higher costs but no additional income.”
This amendment states that regardless of party affiliation, all voters can vote in primary elections of certain state-level races. These races would be for governor, cabinet, and state legislature.
Currently, the Sunshine State is a closed primary.
“The core issue here is that 3.7 million Floridians are registered with no party affiliation and they pay for primary elections and they are banned from voting. That is crazy," Robert Weissert said.
“No one is banned from voting in the primaries," states Adrian Moore, the VP of Policy Reason Foundation, "They are banned from voting on the selection of the candidate for a party that they are not registered.”
Amendment 4 would require that proposed constitutional amendments get a 60% approval in two separate elections to pass. As of now, constitutional amendments only require one election with a 60% approval to pass.
“It is odorous," expressed Brigham, "It takes hundreds of thousands of signatures, supreme court review. But that should not mean it should be made harder because it is already so difficult.”
Robert Weissert is a proponent for the measure, “If they think, huh that wasn’t such a good idea, now I understand the implications of what that will be and I don’t want to do that, then they have a second chance to say, nope.”
This amendment was not discussed in the forum, but it is one proposed by the state legislature. This amendment would extend the period of two years, to three, during a person may transfer their “Save Our Homes” benefits to a new homestead property.
This amendment was not discussed in the forum, but it is one proposed by the state legislature. It would allow a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to a living spouse of a deceased veteran. Currently, the tax discount expires upon the veteran’s death and is not extended to their spouses.
Regardless of the amendment, if approved, the amendment will be in the state’s constitution, which Carol Weissert shares, can only be changed by another amendment, “The language that people adopt is going to stay in that constitution forever probably.”
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