2020 Election Voter Guide: Floridians To Vote On 6 Amendments

·5 min read

TAMPA, FL — Voters in Florida will have an opportunity Nov. 3 to update the state's constitution when they vote on six ballot amendments.

Three were introduced by citizen initiatives and the other two proposed by the Florida Legislature. An amendment is passed if it receives 60 percent of the approval of voters.

Florida Amendment 1

Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

This amendment provides that only United States citizens who are at least 18 years old, permanent residents of Florida and registered to vote are qualified to vote in a Florida election. Florida Constitution, Article VI, Section 2 currently says "every citizen" of the United States who is at least 18 years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state may register and vote.

Those who oppose Amendment 1 say it's redundant. It would make no substantive change to Florida’s constitution, which already limits voting to U.S. citizens. Instead of “every citizen,” the text would read, “only a citizen.”

Summary: “This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.”

Florida Citizen Voters, a Florida-based political committee, sponsored the amendment. The group says the change would prevent challenges to future local laws that allow noncitizens to cast ballots.

Florida Amendment 2

Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

This amendment raises the minimum wage in Florida to $10 per hour effective Sept. 30, 2021. Each Sept. 30 thereafter, the minimum wage will increase by $1 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on Sept. 30, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases will adjust annually for inflation starting Sept. 30, 2027.

Attorney John Morgan and his campaign, Florida For a Fair Wage, are spearheading Florida Constitution, Article X, Section 24, which would increase the existing state minimum wage from $8.56 an hour to $10 an hour starting Sept. 30, 2021.

The federal minimum wage for covered nonexempt employees is $7.25 per hour.

But many states also have minimum wage laws. In cases where an employee is subject to both the state and federal minimum wage laws, the employee is entitled to the higher of the two minimum wages.

As of January 2020, there were 29 states and the District of Columbia with a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum. As of January, there are seven states with a $15 an hour minimum wage including D.C., California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association opposes the amendment, maintaining that it would be devastating to the hospitality industry, which is critical in the Sunshine State and has been further crippled by the coronavirus pandemic. The association said the amendment would force cash-strapped businesses to lay off more workers and ultimately close.

Florida Amendment 3

All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet

This amendment allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party-nominated candidates, will appear on the same primary ballot.

The two highest vote-getters would advance to the general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and the winner is determined in the general election.

The candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot. If passed, this amendment would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

The Florida Constitution, Article VI, Section 5, would be amended to include a section C, essentially changing the state’s primary-election system from a closed election restricted to party-affiliated voters to one that allows people to participate regardless of party and the top two candidates go on to the general election.

Currently, a voter must be registered with a political party, such as the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, to vote in a primary election.

Three states — California, Nebraska and Washington — use this system.

All Voters Vote Inc. and its chairman, attorney Glenn Burhans Jr., said the amendment would make voting more accessible and allow all voters to have a voice in elections.

The Florida Democratic Party and the Florida Republican Party oppose the amendment and have submitted briefs to the Florida Supreme Court outlining their objections.

Black lawmakers have also come out against the amendment, saying it would put minority candidates at a disadvantage. For instance, if the amendment had been in place during the 2018 primary, Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, both Republicans, would have gone on to the general election with no Democratic candidate.

Florida Amendment 4

Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments

This amendment requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one.

The Florida Constitution, Article XI, Sections 5 and 7 would be amended to change how Florida currently amends its constitution. Currently, when an amendment gets on the ballot, it can be approved with 60 percent of voters and then becomes part of Florida Constitution.

This amendment would require the same process a second time.

The amendment was submitted by Keep Our Constitution Clean "To preserve Florida’s constitution for future generations by educating voters on the impact of various constitutional initiative petitions and, secondarily, protecting professional canvassers from unscrupulous and illegal practices."

Keep Our Constitution Clean founder said it's intended to keep citizens from acting as their own legislature and proposing frivolous changes to the constitution.

Florida Amendment 5

Limitation on Homestead Assessments

This amendment to the State Constitution, effective Jan. 1, 2021, would increase the time accrued Save-Our-Homes, Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 4; Article XII, benefits can be transferred to a new homestead from two to three years.

The Florida House of Representatives unanimously approved putting the issue to the voters, arguing that it covers the gap between selling a home while building a new one.

Florida Amendment 6

Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities

The homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities would carry over to such veteran's surviving spouse who holds legal to the homestead property until he or she remarries or sells the property. The amendment would take effect Jan. 1, 2021.”

The Florida Constitution, Article VII, Section 6; Article XII would be amended to allow a veteran’s surviving spouse to receive an existing homestead property tax discount. Florida lawmakers unanimously approved putting the amendment to the voters.

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This article originally appeared on the Tampa Patch

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