The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is urging a no vote on Amendment 3. A no vote stops big business interests from weakening our representative form of government for the purposes of tipping scales toward deep-pocketed corporations.
As they say, follow the money: Businesses such as the Seminole Tribe and Disney have poured more than $40 million to create the illusion that by passing Amendment 3 the voters will have a say in gaming. In reality, it does nothing to benefit the little guy, let alone family-owned businesses. If Amendment 3 were to pass, local businesses—but not the Seminole Tribe, the largest gaming operator in Florida -- would be required to seek a statewide vote to change sometimes outdated business regulations. That’s a process that costs millions, if not tens of millions of dollars, something just a handful of Florida companies can afford to do, while small businesses would be locked out. Does that sound like something meant to help the average Floridian?
The Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce knows better. This Amendment would take regional business issues and force them to be decided on through a statewide voter campaign. The notion that Floridians in Pensacola should have to vote on the ability of local businesses in South Florida to create jobs, improve infrastructure and raise the quality of life in their communities is simply ridiculous. Yet, proponents for Amendment 3 want you to think that if their amendment passes, you will have a greater voice in democratic process.
A few big businesses want to suppress small businesses and citizens who may want to improve their local communities with gaming regulation now or in the future. It’s about protecting their own market share and their own profit margins. Of course, they cannot campaign on that self-serving message, so they fabricate the idea that Amendment 3 will empower you. It won’t. It takes your voices out of the policymaking process, because your state representatives will no longer have the power to regulate through legislation and only big business can afford to launch multi-million dollar statewide campaigns.
Our state chamber represents hundreds of thousands of small-business owners who work hard, pay their taxes and create jobs, so we want to keep the playing field level and fair. The Hispanic Chamber is strongly encouraging our members to Vote NO on Amendment 3. Big corporations already have advantages over small businesses, and we cannot allow Amendment 3 to bypass our representative form of governance to protect big business interests in Florida.
Bottom line, Amendment 3 is being sold as harmless voter empowerment -- but it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing to empower a couple of big Florida companies, and voters need to know they should vote no on 3.
Julio Fuentes is the founder and president of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest Hispanic chamber.