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Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Apr. 11, 201805:23 AM EST

Five Constitutional amendments on ballot, so far

Florida voters will consider questions on casino gambling, homestead exemption with Florida Constitution Revision Commission likely to add more.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

While the Florida Constitution Revision Commission continues its work to draft proposed amendments to the state constitution that will be on the ballot in November, five potential changes to the state’s foundational document of law already have been approved for consideration by voters.

Two would affect property taxes, one is related to voting rights, one is related to how casino gambling may be expanded and the fifth would restrict how the Legislature would be able to raise taxes.

The “Homestead Exemption Increase Amendment,” put forth by the Legislature would increase the homestead exemption from $50,000 to $75,000, reducing the property taxes on a homeowners’ primary residence.

The Legislature also proposes “The Permanent Cap on Non-homestead Parcel Assessment Increases.” It would revoke the 2008 repeal of a restriction on increasing the assessment of certain non-homestead parcels, except for school district taxes, by more than 10 percent per year. If approved, the amendment would make permanent the 10 percent cap.

Parcels that would be affected by the amendment include second homes, apartment properties, commercial property and vacant land.

Placed on the ballot via a citizen initiative, the “Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative” would give voters the exclusive right to authorize additional casino gambling in the state, removing the authority from the Legislature, whether by statute or constitutional amendment.

The amendment defines casino games as well as card games and slot machines as casino gambling, but would not apply to parimutuel wagering such as dog or horse racing or jai alai. Casino gambling on Native American tribal lands authorized through state compacts would be exempt from the amendment as well.

Also placed on the ballot by a citizen initiative, the “Voting Rights Restoration for Felons” amendment would allow automatic restoration of voting rights for people with prior felony convictions, upon completion of their prison sentence, including parole or probation.

People convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense would not be eligible for restoration of their right to vote, however.

Under existing law, people with felony convictions may not have their voting right restored unless restoration is approved by the state Clemency Board, a process which currently requires a minimum five year waiting period after completion of sentence before the board will consider a petition.

The “Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize or Raise State Taxes or Fees” amendment would increase the majority of votes needed in both the state Senate and House of Representatives to increase taxes or fees, other than corporate taxes, from a simple majority to a supermajority.

In 1971, voters approved requiring a three-fifths majority in both chambers to increase the corporate tax rate by more than 5 percent.

In addition to these amendments, the 37-member revision commission is considering 25 proposed changes to the state constitution, some authored by the commissioners and others proposed by the public, that also may appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. 

Amendments from the commission will be submitted to the state attorney general by May 10.

To be enacted, an amendment must be approved by at least 60 percent of voters.

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