This midterm elections voters in Doral will receive at least eight pages of choices. They will have to answer to 34 questions, casting votes for two Federal, six State and two Doral Council offices, in addition to five judges, five State amendments, seven State reviews, and seven referendums total including County, School Board, and Doral questions.
Electors have the right and the duty to make informed decisions. They need to read and be informed because on several of the State reviews measures not necessarily related have been grouped and would pass as a package if they receive the minimum 60% of approval required.
In order to support our readers on their process, we hereby provide a quick reference guide to help them make informed choices regarding all amendments, reviews, and referendums.
Amendment 1– Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption: Expands Florida’s homestead exemption program to the property taxes levied over the first $125,000 in a value of a residence. School levies are not affected. I would take effect starting January 1, 2019. Approval of this measure would represent an average of $230 of savings in property taxes for homeowners while denying it keeps the current homestead exemption limits up to $50,000 of property value.
Amendment 2- Limitations on Property Tax Assessments: Makes permanent the current cap of 10% on tax assessments increase for non-homestead properties (second homes, rentals, commercial property, and vacant land). The approval of the amendment makes permanent and extends tax protection to non-homestead properties like rental apartments and other commercial properties, which are fundamental for the economy of the state. Homestead parcels have a permanent cap of 3% annual increase, whereas the 10% annual cap for other properties can be modified under current legislation. It is a minor change that goes a long way to protect non-homestead properties from excessive tax increments.
Amendment 3 – Voter Control of Gambling in Florida: Opening of new facilities for casino gambling would be approved through citizens’ vote instead of the legislature. With the approval of this amendment, citizens have a direct influence on how much gambling they want to allow in their communities, preventing influence from legislature and lobbyists. However, the measure only allows bans for future gambling locations; therefore all existing establishments would not be affected by this decision. If denied, the legislature will continue making decisions on authorizations for casino gambling.
Amendment 4 – Voting Restoration Amendment: Approves to automatically restore voting rights for felons upon completion of their punishment. Does not include those convicted of murder or sexual offenses. Florida is just one of four states that do not automatically restore voting rights to felons once they have completed their punishment. The approval of this measure would benefit 1.6 million people in Florida, which represents over 10 percent of the entire disenfranchised voting population in the United States. Currently, to have their rights restored, former felons would need to go through a lengthy, case-by-case arbitration process that can take years and maybe infructuous. This amendment suppresses that process for those who qualify, incorporating them to the electors’ pool.
Amendment 5 – Super-majority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees: Creating new or raising existing taxes of fees would be approved only if two-thirds of each chamber in the legislature pass the proposition. It would make tax increases more difficult, keeping Florida as a business-friendly state with low taxes. Florida is a relatively low tax state, tax restriction measures are a popular way for taxpayers to ensure that limits on government overreach and spending remain.
Amendment 6 – Rights of Crime Victims; Judges: It is a bundled revision that has three separate consequences:
- Incorporates to the State Constitution the enhancement of the rights of victims during a criminal process
- Raises to 75 the age of retirement for judges
- Empowers check and balance by prohibiting state courts to defer any law’s interpretation to administrative agencies.
Amendment 7 – First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities: This amendment is another bundled revision, an all or nothing decision. Items cannot be approved independently. It would approve the following measures:
- Changing the way universities go about increasing student fees such as transportation costs and health services, excluding tuition.
- Requiring supermajority (two thirds) to raise college fees.
- Enforces the existing governing board into the Florida Constitution for the State College System, which is made up of what used to be 2-year community colleges, though some of these colleges do offer 4-year programs for various majors.
- Require providing college tuition for the survivors of first responders and military members killed on duty.
Amendment 9* – Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces: Voting Yes on this amendment approves a prohibition for offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in Florida waters and, although unrelated, it also bans the use of vapor generating electronic devices in indoor workplaces. A No vote on this measure does not actively forbid offshore drilling and does not add language to the Florida Constitution to prohibit vaping in the workplace. Approving the amendment would protect State waters beneath high water line and outermost boundaries of territorial seas.
Amendment 10 – State and Local Government Structure and Operation: This amendment is a four-part measure that would:
- Requires retention of Department of Veterans’ affairs.
- Create a state office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism.
- Require the legislature to convene on the second Tuesday of January in even-numbered years
- Mandates counties’ election of Sheriff, Property Appraiser, and Supervisor of elections, Tax collector and clerk of court.
Amendment 11*, – Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes: Current Statute includes the “Florida Alien Land Law” that would permit discriminatory treatment of the property rights of alien immigrants. This amendment revokes that language and also repeals the “Savings Clause” which prevents the legislature from applying legislative changes to criminal laws to the prosecution or punishment of crimes committed prior to the change. If approved it would take effect January 8, 2019.
Amendment 12 – Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers: This amendment will prohibit Florida legislators, statewide elected officers, and state agency heads from being compensated to represent a person or entity before the legislature, any state government body or agency, or any political subdivision of the state during office and for six years after vacating office. The best way to limit special interests’ influence on government is to limit the scope of government decisions.
Amendment 13 – Ends Dog Racing: This amendment would outlaw wagering on dog racing, most notably greyhound racing, in Florida.
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Nonpartisan election of Clerk of the Circuit Court: Establishes Clerk of Circuit Court as non-partisan, eliminating primaries for that position.
County Appointed Officials and Employees Running for Certain Elective Offices: Modifies the mandate of taking a leave of absence for employees if running for office only to those applying for certain county offices, not federal, state or city levels.
Review of initiatory petitions for legal sufficiency: Requires County Attorney to review the feasibility of petitions before signature drives take place.
Elections for county commissioners and mayor: Updates language authorizing Elections Department to not count votes for candidates that withdraw, disqualify, pass away or run unopposed.
Prohibiting certain payments circulators of initiatory petitions: Establishes prohibition to receive payment for initiating petitions and invalidates petitions associated with that.
Secure Our Future–Approve Ad Valorem Levy for Teachers, Instructional Personnel, School Safety, and Security: Increases during four years 75 cents for each $1000 of property value to calculate the taxes that go to the School Board. The extra taxes levied will go to finance salary increases for teachers and to fund additional School Resource Officers to reinforce safety at schools. Details on the School Board Secure our Future proposal are here: http://secureourfuture.dadeschools.net/
Doral Parks for Tomorrow– General Obligation Bonds for Parks, Natural Areas, and Recreational Facilities: Approves for the City to issue a $150 Million General Obligation Bond to finance the development of Doral Central Park, Doral Cultural Arts Pavilion and Walk-to Park Site, improve existing parks and expand Trail system. It is to be paid by Doral residents through property taxes over a 30-year period. Information about the Doral Parks for Tomorrow referendum, including a Household Impact Calculator, is here: https://www.doralparksbond.org/
(*) These Amendments are currently pending results of the State appeal to a circuit judge that ruled to strike them out of the ballot due to being composed of several proposals in one question. In case you want to read the whole text for the amendments to the Florida Statutes, it can be reviewed at https://dos.myflorida.com/media/699824/constitutional-amendments-2018-general-election-english.pdf