110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Excerpted from material written by the Florida League of Women Voters
posted Oct 30, 2012 - 11:18:54am
Health Care Services
Synopsis: Amendment 1 is more of a political referendum than a meaningful change to our constitution. Since the Supreme Court has upheld the federal government’s right to impose the individual mandate, the legal standing of Amendment 1 is precarious.
YES on Amendment 1 would:
• Represent an attempt to opt Florida out of federal health care reform requirements
• Add language to the Florida Constitution that could be found unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution if determined by the courts to be in conflict with federal law
NO on Amendment 1 would:
• Ensure that the Florida Constitution does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution with regard to health care coverage
• Not prohibit Florida lawmakers from passing state laws requiring health care coverage
Veterans Disabled Due to Combat Injury; Homestead Property Tax Discount
Synopsis: Amendment 2 relaxes the eligibility requirements for an existing property tax discount offered to disabled veterans.
Currently, disabled veterans who meet the following four requirements are eligible for a property tax discount commensurate with the degree of their disability: 1) current Florida resident; 2) 65 or older; 3) disabled in combat; 4) Florida resident when they entered the military.
If passed, Amendment 2 would eliminate that fourth eligibility requirement.
Roughly 1,200 veterans received that discount in 2010, allowing them to subtract, on average, $24,000 from their home’s value before property taxes were calculated.
The state estimates that if Amendment 2 passes, school districts and local governments would lose a total of $15 million over the first three years.
A vote YES on Amendment 2 would:
• Give the existing homestead tax exemption to disabled veterans who were not Florida residents at the time they entered military service
• Reduce property tax revenue for schools and local government services by an estimated total of $15 million over the first three years
NO on Amendment 2 would:
• Not expand the property tax exemption to disabled veterans who were not Florida residents at the time they entered military service
• Not reduce property tax revenue for schools and local government services by an estimated $15 million over three years
State Government Revenue Limitation
Synopsis: Since 1995, Florida has set a cap for the amount of revenue it can spend every year from taxes and fees imposed on everything from gasoline and tobacco sales to business licenses and auto titles. Any excess revenue above the cap is to be deposited in the state’s rainy day fund or returned to taxpayers rather than be spent by the government.
The cap is considered by its backers to be a self-imposed restraint on government growth.
To date, state revenue collections have never exceeded the cap (largely due to rising personal income and falling tax rates).
If passed, Amendment 3 would impose a stricter formula for calculating the revenue limit and, as a result, increase the likelihood it would affect government spending.
The new formula would be based on annual population growth and inflation, instead of personal income. Those indicators are considered less volatile than personal income growth and more likely to constrain growth in state revenues. Critics fear the strict revenue limits would affect spending on necessary services like schools and public safety. Supporters say the cap is needed to limit government spending.
YES on Amendment 3 would:
• Restrict government revenue (taxes, licenses, fees, fines or charges for services) in good and poor economic times
• Limit the Legislature’s ability to increase revenue beyond what the formula allows
NO on Amendment 3 would:
• Protect the state’s ability to provide the current level of government services
• Preserve the Legislature’s current flexibility in responding to budgetary concerns and changing economic conditions
Property Tax Limitation; Property Value Decline; Reduction for Non-Homestead Assessment Increases; Delay of Scheduled Repeal
Synopsis: This proposal would extend tax breaks to property owners and to first-time homebuyers.
If passed, it would: 1) prevent the assessed value of homesteaded and specified non-homesteaded properties from increasing if the market value of that property decreases compared to the previous year. This would allow the Legislature to eliminate a provision in the current law known as “recapture,” which can cause the taxable value of a property to rise even if its market value drops; 2) reduce from 10 percent to 5 percent the cap on annual increases in the assessments of specified non-homesteaded properties such as residential rental property, seasonal homes and commercial property; 3) authorize a homestead exemption to first-time homebuyers or to buyers who have not owned property during the previous three years or longer; 4) delay until 2013 the scheduled repeal of assessment caps on certain types of non-homesteaded properties.
Proponents say the tax breaks will stimulate the housing and commercial real estate markets.
Critics say the proposal will hurt cash-strapped school districts, cities and counties already forced to cut services.
YES on Amendment 4 would:
• Reduce local government revenue by cutting in half the taxable rate on non-homestead property, such as commercial income properties and second homes
• Reduce local government revenue by extending an additional homestead tax exemption to some first-time homeowners, and also by prohibiting increases in property value on some properties in any year where the market value decreases
NO on Amendment 4 would:
• Prevent schools and local governments from losing an estimated $1 billion in property tax revenue over three years
• Not place a limitation on local government revenue in the Florida Constitution where it would be difficult to modify or remove
Amendment 5 State Courts
Synopsis: This proposed amendment would alter the balance of power among the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government.
Its most meaningful provision is the one granting the state Senate confirmation power over appointees to the Florida Supreme Court. Currently, the governor fills openings on the court by appointing a nominee from a list presented by a judicial nominating commission.
If passed, this amendment would allow the Senate to reject or approve nominees.
Supporters of Amendment 5 say it would bring much needed change to a court system that gives the governor too much power in appointing judges.
Opponents say the measure is a dangerous attempt to exert political influence over the judicial branch by giving legislators more authority.
YES on Amendment 5 would:
• Require the Florida Senate to vote to confirm or reject a gubernatorial appointment to the state Supreme Court
• Allow the Legislature to repeal statewide judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court by a simple majority vote instead of a two-thirds vote
NO on Amendment 5 would:
• Maintain the current method of selecting justices for the Florida Supreme Court by allowing the governor to make appointments without legislative approval
• Continue to require a two-thirds vote to repeal statewide judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court
Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions; Construction of Abortion Rights
Synopsis: Federal law prohibits the expenditure of federal funds for most abortions (exceptions include rape, incest and threats to a mother’s life).
If passed, Amendment 6 would enshrine those prohibitions in the state constitution. Because Florida law already prohibits public funds from being spent on abortion, this would not change current abortion funding practices.
There is another provision in the amendment, however, that would affect abortion law in Florida. That provision concerns a privacy right in the state constitution that is sometimes used to thwart anti-abortion measures in Florida.
In 1980, Florida voters passed an amendment that says, in part: “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from governmental intrusion into the person’s private life…” This privacy clause has been cited when defending abortion rights in Florida. If passed, Amendment 6 would prevent courts from concluding in abortion cases that the right to privacy in Florida is broader in scope than the right to privacy afforded in the U.S. Constitution.
YES on Amendment 6 would:
• Mean that Florida’s constitutional right to privacy is not applicable to abortion-related issues
• Restate in the Florida Constitution federal and state law that prohibit public funds from being used for abortion or health insurance coverage of abortion
NO on Amendment 6 would:
• Continue to allow Florida’s constitutional right to privacy to include abortion-related issues
• Continue to extend Florida’s constitutional right to privacy to any future attempts to restrict abortion
• Not place language in the Florida Constitution that prohibits public funding of abortion where it would be difficult to modify or remove
removed from ballot)
Synopsis: Amendment 8 revives long-standing debates over the separation of church and state.
It would repeal a 126-year-old provision in the state constitution that prohibits taxpayer funding of religious institutions. The provision – commonly known as the “no aid” provision – states more unequivocally than the U.S. Constitution that state funds not be spent “directly or indirectly” in support of any entity that promotes religion.
If passed, the amendment would remove that prohibition. An important aspect of Amendment 8 concerns its impact on future school voucher programs. Past programs that included religiously affiliated schools have been deemed unconstitutional partly due to the “no aid” provision. Amendment 8 would remove that obstacle to restarting these programs, which allow parents to remove students from failing public schools and send them to private schools at taxpayers’ expense.
YES on Amendment 8 would:
• Repeal the “no aid” provision in the Florida Constitution and allow public money to go to private religious institutions
• Allow the expansion of Florida’s school voucher program to religious institutions and could result in money being directed to private religious schools at the expense of public schools
NO on Amendment 8 would:
• Maintain the “no aid” provision in the state constitution that prohibits the government from funding religious institutions and groups that promote religion
• Maintain the constitutional provision the courts have cited when rejecting school voucher programs that fund religiously affiliated schools
Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Spouse of Military Veteran or First Responder
Synopsis: Amendment 9 grants full homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouses of military veterans who die from service-connected causes while on active duty, and to the surviving spouses of police, firefighters and other first responders who die in the line of duty. In short, the surviving spouses deemed eligible will not pay any property taxes.
For a spouse to be eligible, the deceased veteran or first responder must have been a permanent resident of Florida as of Jan. 1 of the year he or she died. That same residency requirement applies to the surviving spouses of first responders.
State law has granted full homestead property tax relief to surviving military spouses since 1997. This proposed amendment enshrines that exemption in the state constitution while adding eligibility to the spouses of first responders.
The state estimates that this amendment, if passed, would reduce local school and government tax revenues by about $600,000 statewide in the first year it is in effect.
YES for Amendment 9 would:
• Grant full homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty
• Enshrine in the state constitution a law that currently offers full property tax relief to surviving spouses of veterans who die while on active duty
NO for Amendment 9 would:
• Maintain existing property tax exemptions
• Prevent local governments from losing a combined $600,000 in estimated property tax revenues over the course of a year
Tangible Personal Property Tax Exemption
Synopsis: Most taxpayers are familiar with paying property taxes on a home. This proposed amendment is about taxes assessed on tangible personal property used in a business or to earn income.
Furniture, fixtures, machinery, tools, shelving, signs and equipment are examples of property that is subject to the state’s tangible personal property tax.
By April 1 of each year, anyone owning tangible personal property that is used in a business or to earn income must file a return with the local property appraiser. Under current law, the first $25,000 of tangible personal property is exempt from taxation. If passed, Amendment 10 would boost that exemption to $50,000. It would also allow cities and counties to grant additional tangible personal tax exemptions beyond the $50,000 exemption.
Supporters say it will help small businesses.
Opponents question whether it will benefit the economy and warn it will further erode the local tax base.
YES for Amendment 10 would:
• Double the tax exemption on tangible personal property
• Reduce local property tax revenues across the state by an estimated $61 million combined over the first three years it is implemented
NO for Amendment 10 would:
• Leave the tax exemption on tangible personal property at its current rate
• Not reduce local property tax revenues across the state by an estimated $61 million combined over three years
Additional Homestead Exemption; Low Income Seniors Who Maintain Long Term Residency on Property; Equal to Assessed Value
Synopsis: Amendment 11 authorizes cities and counties to grant full homestead property tax relief to low-income seniors who have lived in their homes for at least 25 years. In short, it would eliminate the entire property tax bill for qualifying seniors.
Homeowners who meet the following requirements would be eligible: 1) aged 65 and older; 2) have a household income of less than $27,030; 3) own a home with a market value of less than $250,000; 4) have lived in the home for at least 25 years.
City councils and county commissions must pass the exemption by a supermajority vote before the full exemption can be offered.
YES on Amendment 11 would:
• Authorize cities and counties to grant a full homestead exemption to certain low-income seniors
• Require a super-majority vote by local governments to grant the exemption
• Reduce tax revenues to local governments across the state by an estimated $18.5 million combined over the first two years it is implemented
NO on Amendment 11 would:
• Retain current property tax exemptions for seniors
• Prevent local governments from granting an exemption that could cost an estimated $18.5 million in tax revenues combined over the first two years of implementation
• Not place a potential limitation on local government revenue in the Florida Constitution where it would be difficult to modify or remove
Appointment of Student Body President to Board of Governors of the State University System
Synopsis: The state’s 11 public universities are part of the State University System, which is governed by a 17-member Board of Governors. Under current law, the president of the Florida Student Association is, by virtue of the position, a member of the Board of Governors. Not every university is an active FSA member, however. Currently, 10 of the 11 universities take an active role. Florida State University prefers not to pay the FSA dues, feeling its interests are better represented in other ways.
Under the current system, student council presidents from schools that are non-FSA participants, like FSU, can never be the student representative on the Board of Governors. If passed, Amendment 12 would instruct the Board of Governors to create a new council consisting of the student body presidents of all 11 universities.
YES on Amendment 12 would:
• Create a new council of student body presidents from which the student representative to the Board of Governors would be selected
• Remove the Florida Student Association president from the Board of Governors
NO on Amendment 12 would:
• Not authorize the creation of a new council of student body presidents
• Retain the Florida Student Association’s current role on the Board of Governors
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