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Jax Daily Record Monday, Oct. 15, 201801:17 PM EST

Jerry Holland: Amendment 1 likely to pass

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Duval County's property appraiser shared his insights about 12 constitutional amendments up for a vote on Nov. 6
by: Caren Burmeister Contributing Writer

Two constitutional amendment proposals that would reduce property taxes on both homestead and non-homestead properties dominated a recent presentation by Duval County Property Appraiser Jerry Holland.

The two proposals are among 12 constitutional amendments that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. Holland discussed all of them at an Oct. 12 meeting sponsored by the Northeast Florida Builders Association's Sales and Marketing Council.

Holland, who took office in 2015, reminded his audience that constitutional amendments require 60 percent statewide approval for adoption.

Amendment 1 would grant an extra $25,000 homestead exemption for homes with an assessed value of at least $125,000. This measure would increase to $75,000 the amount homeowners could deduct from their home’s assessed value.

Owners of homes assessed between $100,000 and $125,000 would receive part of the exemption based on a pro-rated formula.

If approved, the measure would take effect Jan. 1, 2019, and local school taxes would be excluded from the tax savings.

On average, this measure is expected to save individual homeowners about $297, Holland said. The property appraiser’s office offers a tool on its website (https://3hxestimator.org/hb3/hb3.php?co=26) to help residents calculate the amendment’s impact on their tax bill.

Some people oppose the measure because it could reduce the county’s tax revenues by more than $26 million and affect county services, Holland said. But recent polling shows the amendment is likely to pass, he said.

Amendment 2 addresses a temporary 10 percent cap on annual property assessment increases for vacation homes, commercial property and other non-homesteaded property.

If approved, it would make that cap permanent. Voters adopted the temporary cap a decade ago to provide some protection against fast-rising property values for non-homesteaded property.

If this amendment fails, the temporary cap will automatically repeal on Jan. 1, 2019.  

Holland said he wholeheartedly endorses this constitutional amendment. If this measure fails, and the cap disappears, county tax revenues would increase by roughly $15 million, he said.

Here is a summary of the other 10 constitutional amendments that will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot:

Amendment 3: Would give voters, rather than the state legislature, the exclusive right to approve new casino gambling. If approved, a company seeking to open new casinos in Florida would have to mount an expensive statewide campaign for a constitutional amendment. It does not affect dog and horse racing, the Lottery, fantasy sports, or casinos owned and operated by Native-American tribes.

Amendment 4: Would restore voting rights to felons who have completed their sentences, excluding felons who committed murder and felony sex offenses. Presently, felons must wait five to seven years to apply to the Clemency Board for the right to vote. Florida is one of four states that permanently bars felons from voting after their sentences are completed.

Amendment 5: Would require a two-thirds vote (rather than a simple majority) of the Florida Legislature to approve new or increased taxes on sales, gasoline, alcohol and unemployment, and licensing fees.

Amendment 6: Expands the scope of victim’s rights on issues such as bail, pre-trial release, trial scheduling and appeals. It would also increase the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75.  

Amendment 7: Would require supermajority votes for universities to add or increase student fees. (It does not address tuition.) It would also add a new section to the Constitution on the state college system, and it would require employers or the state to pay death benefits to paramedics and other first responders and military members killed in the line of duty.

Amendment 8: This amendment has been removed from the ballot.

Amendment 9: Prohibits oil drilling beneath waters controlled by Florida and prohibits the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, at indoor workplaces.

Amendment 10: Would require the Legislature to meet in early January on even-numbered years; create an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; make the state Department of Veterans’ Affairs mandatory, rather than optional; and force all charter counties to elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and Clerk of Circuit Court.

Amendment 11:  Would repeal land ownership restrictions on non-citizens; require that criminal defendants are prosecuted under the law at the time, rather than the law when the alleged crime was committed; and delete obsolete language involving high-speed rail in Florida.

Amendment 12: Expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees, requiring them to wait six, rather than two, years before they may lobby state government.

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