Starting Tuesday and for the next two weeks, Sunshine State News will run the 12 proposed constitutional amendments on the 2018 Florida ballot -- one amendment per day -- including an analysis of each initiative, as produced by The James Madison Institute.
Note: There were 13 originally. But Amendment 8, which addressed school board term limits and duties, expanding civics education and permission for charter schools to bypass local school board oversights, was struck from the ballot by the Florida Supreme Court.
Editors feel proud and privileged this respected free-market think tank allowed SSN to present the whole of its 2018 Florida Constitutional Amendment Guide. The Guide is a perfect educational tool, written in straightforward, objective, reader-friendly language, with a "pro" and "con" for each amendment.
Nevertheless, 12 constitutional amendments represent a lot of language for voters to process. That's what makes this guide so important for voters. Constitutional initiatives play a pivotal role in the governance of our state, and as such they warrant a heightened level of scrutiny from all of us.
Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy for JMI, and part of the Guide's author team, said this:
“With so much on the line and on the ballot in the 2018 election, it would be easy for voters to ‘check out’ by the time they get to the amendments. State constitutional amendments are in place far longer than any politician," he said. "These initiatives are of the highest importance to every Floridian and it’s our responsibility as citizens to weigh each one seriously.
"It’s our sincere hope that this guide will help voters navigate each of the amendments through objective analysis and honest appraisal.”
The Guide's introduction explains the process, as shown below:
"Proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot originate from three specific sources: the Florida Legislature, the citizens of Florida, and the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). Regardless of how a measure makes it to the ballot, all amendments require a 60 percent voting majority to pass. Additionally, each source establishes different hurdles before an amendment can reach the ballot. In the Legislature, 60 percent of the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate must agree to put the proposed amendment on the ballot. This year, the Florida Legislature passed three Amendments (1, 2, and 5) to the ballot.
"The Florida Constitution also has a mechanism for a citizen initiative petition. Floridians can place proposed amendments on the ballot by gaining at least 766,200 signatures from 14 of the state’s 27 congressional districts (the requirement is 8 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last presidential election). Two measures made it to the ballot in this method: Amendments 3 and 4.
"The final source of ballot initiatives comes courtesy of a group unique to the state of Florida -- the Constitution Revision Commission. The CRC meets every 20 years to examine Florida’s constitution and propose amendments. The 37-member commission spends roughly a year identifying crucial issues across the state. These issues make their way to the ballot via a committee process similar to the method in which the Legislature operates.
This year, the CRC proposed eight ballot initiatives (Amendments 6 through 13). However, as opposed to other methods, the CRC is not required to have single-subject amendments. Consequently, the Commission chose to combine several initiatives into “bundled” amendments."
The bundling of issues into amendments, also a possible cause of confusion, is another important reason voters should take advantage of the JMI Guide. We believe presented in this two-week daily series, JMI's amendment analyses will arm voters with all they need to make an informed decision at the polls.
On Tuesday: Amendment 1: Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption