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Constitutional Amendments

In 2012, voters will see eleven new proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. The Florida Chamber has two requirements that must be met in order for a proposed amendment to have its support. First, the amendment must apply to the fundamental operation and process of government. If the first requirement is met, the amendment must also be in the best interest of businesses and citizens in order to gain Florida Chamber support.

Download a Guide to the Proposed Constitutional Amendments (PDF Document)

 

Amendment #1

Health Care Services

Ballot Summary:

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage; permit a person or an employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from a health care provider; permit a health care provider to accept direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and taxes for paying directly or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; and prohibit laws or rules from abolishing the private market for health care coverage of any lawful health care service.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Ensuring that any person, employer, or health care provider is not compelled to participate in any health care system;
  • Authorizing a person or employer to pay directly, without using a third party such as an insurer or employer, for health care services without incurring penalties or fines; and
  • Authorizing a health care provider to accept direct payment for health care services without incurring penalties or fines.
Our View: The Florida Chamber supports this amendment.

 

Amendment #2

Veterans disabled due to combat injury; homestead property tax discount

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to expand the availability of the property discount on the homesteads of veterans who became disabled as the result of a combat injury to include those who were not Florida residents when they entered the military and schedule the amendment to take effect January 1, 2013.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis

Allows partially or totally disabled veterans who were not Florida residents at the time of entering military service to qualify for the combat-related disabled veterans’ ad valorem tax discount on homestead property.

Our View: The Florida Chamber has no position on this amendment.

 

Amendment #3

State government revenue limitation

 

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to replace the existing state revenue limitation based on Florida personal income growth with a new state revenue limitation based on inflation and population changes. Under the amendment state revenues collected in excess of the revenue limitation must be deposited into the budget stabilization fund until the fund reaches its maximum balance, and thereafter shall be used for the support and maintenance of public schools by reducing the minimum financial effort required from school districts for participation in a state-funded education finance program, or, if the minimum financial effort is no longer required, returned to the taxpayers. The Legislature may increase the state revenue limitation through a bill approved by a super majority vote of each house of the Legislature. The Legislature may also submit a proposed increase in the state revenue limitation to the voters.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Replaces the existing state revenue limitation based on Florida personal income growth with a new state revenue limitation based on changes in population and inflation.
  • Requires excess revenues to be deposited into the Budget Stabilization Fund, used to support public education, or returned to the taxpayers.
  • Adds fines and revenues used to pay debt service on bonds issued after July 1, 2012 to the state revenues subject to the limitation.
  • Authorizes the Legislature to increase the revenue limitation by a supermajority vote.
  • Authorizes the Legislature to place a proposed increase before the voters, requiring approval by 60 percent of the voters.
Our View: The Florida Chamber supports this amendment.

 

Additional Resources

 

Amendment #4

Property tax limitations; property value decline; reduction for nonhomestead assessment increases; delay of scheduled repeal

 

Ballot Summary

Proposes amendments to State Constitution to allow Legislature by general law to prohibit increases in assessed value of homestead & specified nonhomestead property if just value of property decreases, reduce limitation on annual assessment increases applicable to nonhomestead real property, provide additional homestead exemption for owners of homestead property who have not owned homestead property for specified time before purchase of current homestead property, & application & limitations with respect thereto, delay future repeal of provisions limiting annual assessment increases for specified nonhomestead real property, & provide effective dates.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Reduces from 10% to 5% the maximum annual increase in assessed value on certain non-homesteaded properties.
  • Allows first time home buyers (defined as those who have not owned a home in Florida in the past three years) to receive an additional homestead exemption of half the appraised value of their home up to $150,000.00 This exemption would phase out over five years.
  • Allows the Legislature to prohibit increases in the assessed value of homestead property and certain nonhomestead property in any year where the market value of the property decreases. If implemented by general law, this provision would prevent what is commonly referred to as “recapture” in any year where the market value of a property decreases.
Our View: The Florida Chamber supports this amendment.

 

Additional Resources

 

Amendment #5

State courts

 

Ballot Summary

Proposes revision of Article V of State Constitution, relating to judiciary. Revises provisions relating to repeal of court rules; limits readoption of repealed court rule; provides for Senate confirmation of Supreme Court justices; requires JQC to make all of its files available to House Speaker; provides for confidentiality of records provided to House of Representatives until impeachment is initiated; makes other conforming & modernizing changes.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Currently, justices are selected by the Governor from a list of qualified candidates selected by a nominating commission. This joint resolution adds a requirement that a Supreme Court justice nominated by the Governor must be confirmed by the Senate to take office. If the Senate does not reject a nominee within 90 days, the nominee is deemed confirmed.
  • Current law allows the Supreme Court to adopt rules for the practice and procedure in all courts. Court rules Proposed Constitutional Amendments 48 49 may be repealed by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. This proposed amendment provides for repeal of a court rule by general law (a simple majority), provided that the Legislature give reasons for the repeal. The court may not readopt a rule without conforming the rule to the reasons for repeal, and if repealed again it may not be readopted absent legislative approval.
  • Investigative files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission are confidential. This joint resolution would allow the House of Representatives, at the Speaker’s request, to review all investigative files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission.
Our View: The Florida Chamber supports this amendment.

 

Additional Resources

 

Amendment #6

Prohibition of public funding of abortions; construction of abortion rights

 

Ballot Summary

This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. This prohibition does not apply to an expenditure required by federal law, a case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, or a case of rape or incest. This proposed amendment provides that the State Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution. With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • The prohibition on the spending of public funds for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes the coverage of abortion does not apply to:
  • Expenditures required by federal law;
  • A case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness, including a life-endangering, physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself, which would, as certified by a physician, place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed;
  • An abortion due to a pregnancy resulting from rape; or
  • An abortion due to a pregnancy resulting from incest.
  • Additionally, the joint resolution specifies that the Florida Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the U.S. Constitution.
Our View: The Florida Chamber has no position on this amendment.

 

Amendment #7

Religious freedom

Removed from the ballot.

 

Amendment #8

Religious freedom

 

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Amends the Florida Constitution relating to religious freedom.
  • Repeals a limit on the power of the state and its subdivisions to spend funds “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.”
  • Provides that government may not deny the benefits of any program, funding, or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief, except to the extent required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Our View: The Florida Chamber supports this amendment.

 

Amendment #9

Homestead property tax exemption for surviving spouse of military veteran or first responder

 

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to provide by general law ad valorem homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service- connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The amendment authorizes the Legislature to totally exempt or partially exempt such surviving spouse’s homestead property from ad valorem taxation. The amendment defines a first responder as a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2013.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Allows the Legislature to provide ad valorem tax relief to the surviving spouse of a veteran who died from service-connected causes while on active duty as a member of the United States Armed Forces and to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The amount of tax relief, to be defined by general law, can equal the total amount or a portion of the ad valorem tax otherwise owed on homestead property.
  • Defines “first responder” to mean a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. “In the line of duty” is defined to mean arising out of and in the actual performance of duty required by employment as a first responder. The Legislature is authorized to further define these terms by general law.
Our View: The Florida Chamber has no position on this amendment.

 

Amendment #10

Tangible personal property tax exemption

 

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to: (1) Provide an exemption from ad valorem taxes levied by counties, municipalities, school districts, and other local governments on tangible personal property if the assessed value of an owner’s tangible personal property is greater than $25,000 but less than $50,000. This new exemption, if approved by the voters, will take effect on January 1, 2013, and apply to the 2013 tax roll and subsequent tax rolls. (2) Authorize a county or municipality for the purpose of its respective levy, and as provided by general law, to provide tangible personal property tax exemptions by ordinance. This is in addition to other statewide tangible personal property tax exemptions provided by the Constitution and this amendment.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis
  • Proposes an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would provide an additional exemption from ad valorem taxes on tangible personal property valued between twenty-five thousand and fifty thousand dollars.
  • In addition, the constitutional amendment proposed by the joint resolution would authorize the legislature to permit counties and municipalities, pursuant to general law, to provide additional exemptions from ad valorem taxes on tangible personal property by ordinance.
Our View: The Florida Chamber supports this amendment.

 

Additional Resources

 

Amendment #11

Additional homestead exemption; low-income seniors who maintain long-term residency on property; equal to assessed value

 

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law and subject to conditions set forth in the general law, to allow counties and municipalities to grant an additional homestead tax exemption equal to the assessed value of homestead property if the property has a just value less than $250,000 to an owner who has maintained permanent residency on the property for not less than 25 years, who has attained age 65, and who has a low household income as defined by general law.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Analysis

Allows the Legislature by general law to permit counties and municipalities to grant an additional homestead tax exemption equal to the assessed value of homestead property to certain low income seniors.

Our View: The Florida Chamber has no position on this amendment.

 

Amendment #12

Appointment of student body president to board of governors of the state university system

 

Ballot Summary

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to replace the president of the Florida Student Association with the chair of the council of state university student body presidents as the student member of the Board of Governors of the State University System and to require that the Board of Governors organize such council of state university student body presidents.

Sponsor

The Florida Legislature

Our View: The Florida Chamber has no position on this amendment.
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