“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned;

if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity;

but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand."

Ezekiel 33:6

"A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring."

Proverbs 25:26

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

9 Amendments Proposed to Florida Constitution

Educate Yourself before you vote!

Dear Floridian,
On November 2 or sooner, if you are an “early voter,” each of us will exercise a precious right granted by God and preserved by generations of courageous men and women – the right to choose who will represent us in Congress, who will be our Governor and Cabinet officers, and who will speak for us in the State Senate and House of Representatives.  We’ll decide on the leaders we trust to be stewards of our local governments, as well.
As Floridians, we’ll also have the opportunity this year to change our state constitution in ways that could have as much of a lasting impact on our communities and families as the persons we vote into office. 
There are nine amendments proposed to the State Constitution and one state-wide referendum.   (Note that there are presently ongoing court challenges involving amendments 3, 7 and 9.  So these may or may not be on the final ballot.)  Citizens have various sources of information about these amendments and the referendum issue, including from interest groups who support or oppose the ballot measures.   The Collins Center for Public Policy at Florida State University is a respected and reliable source of objective information about constitutional questions.  The Collins Center is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan public policy organization that does not endorse political candidates and is not affiliated with any political party or candidate.  The Collins Center was founded in 1988 and named after former Governor LeRoy Collins.
As a service, the Collins Center has prepared a short explanation of each of the ballot questions and the referendum measure.  With their permission, I’m including the Collins Center information – word for word as they prepared it – with this report to you.
As a note of disclosure, I did not participate in developing the Collins Center’s explanation of these proposed constitutional amendments.
The Patriot Sheepdog's views are indicated with red text (opposed) and green text (in support). These are my own views on these questions, based upon my research.  Floridians must make their own decision, but please do so after reading and understanding ALL the facts regarding these amendments.  Once you read the Collins Center explanations I hope you’ll check out the arguments put forward by proponents and opponents of each proposal.

"Education is cheap defense of nations." - Edmund Burke

If you would like more information on the Collins Center, please visit their website at www.FlAmendments.org.

Florida Amendments on the 2010 Ballot

Amendment One: Repeal of public financing requirement

            For more than 20 years, Florida's taxpayers have been subsidizing the campaigns of aspirants to statewide office, a practice enshrined in the state Constitution in 1998. In 2006, the cost was $11.1 million. Charlie Crist, who was elected governor that year, received $3.3 million. Those numbers were higher than in previous years because the Legislature had substantially increased the spending limits. This year, however, voters will decide whether to kill the program.
"Why would we be spending tens of millions of taxpayer money when obviously anyone running statewide is going to be able to get the resources," said Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, a sponsor of Amendment 1.  Republicans in the Legislature supported Amendment 1, while many Democrats voted against it.  "There has not been an outcry to repeal this," said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Sunrise. "The people voted for this. It's wrong to send it back."

Amendment Two: Tax Break for Deployed Military Personnel
This proposed amendment has the blessings of every member of the state House and Senate. It passed unanimously. If voters approve the amendment, the Legislature will be required to provide a homestead property tax reduction to every Floridian serving in the military outside the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. The amount of the tax break will be determined by the number of days a member serves overseas.
There is no known opposition to this amendment.

Amendment Three: Property Tax Limit for Non-homestead Property; add exemption for New Homestead Owners
If Florida voters approve this measure, owners of property that does not qualify for a homestead exemption could see a tax break. The assessed value of such "non-homestead" property cannot increase more than 10 percent a year, according to the state Constitution. Amendment 3 would change that limit to 5 percent. It would also provide an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for property taxpayers who haven't owned a principal residence over the past eight years.

Amendment Four: Putting the Public in Charge of Growth Plan Changes
This amendment, commonly referred to as Hometown Democracy, the name of the group advocating the change, would require voter approval of development proposals that conflict with local growth management plans. Its supporters say local governments are entirely too willing to change those plans to accommodate developers and builders. They want to transfer that power to the people.  The amendment's detractors, many of whom are developers, real estate agents or builders, say it would result in giant, complex ballots that would overwhelm and confuse voters. They say the measure would badly damage the Florida economy.

Amendment Five and Six: Changes to Redistricting Process
Redistricting is the act of re-dividing the state into new election districts. By law, it happens every 10 years. And each time lawmakers begin the process, which involves using sophisticated computing, it draws intense scrutiny from critics who accuse incumbents of choosing which voters to put in their districts to ensure re-election. A new effort is under way in Florida to change that.  FairDistrictsFlorida.org, a nonpartisan state committee, is working to establish constitutionally mandated fairness standards for the way Florida draws legislative and congressional district lines.  According to FairDistrictsFlorida.org, these amendments would establish fairness standards for use in creating legislative and congressional district boundaries. While protecting minority voting rights, the standards would prohibit drawing district lines to favor or disfavor any incumbent or political party. Districts would have to be compact and utilize existing political and geographical boundaries. In other words, natural competitiveness and fairness would be required.

Amendment Seven: Redistricting Changes that are Less Restrictive than
Amendments 5 and 6
Calling Amendments 5 and 6 unworkable, leaders of the Republican-led Legislature responded by crafting Amendment 7, which they say will complement Amendments 5 and 6 by allowing other factors to be taken into account when drawing district boundaries.
Backers of Amendment 7 say it will help preserve minority-access districts, but critics argue that it is nothing more than an effort to confuse the voters. They say it is written in a way that will override the intended benefits of Amendments 5 and 6 if all three measures pass. The proposal allows those drawing the political boundaries to take into account "communities of interest.” Such communities have historically been, for example, coastal residents and members of racial or ethnic minorities. A circuit judge struck this amendment from the ballot, but the Florida Supreme Court will hear an appeal and make the final decision.

Amendment Eight: Relaxation of Class-Size Requirements
A proposed constitutional amendment passed April 8 by the Florida Legislature would ease the state Constitution’s existing class size rules. Passed by voters in 2002, the Class Size Amendment sets a maximum number of students allowed in classrooms across the state. The new proposal would raise the maximum allowable number of students per class by changing the calculation from per-class maximums to school-wide averages.
The change would allow a school to be over the average in one class provided that excess is balanced by another class at that school with fewer students than the allowable average. Backers say the change would save millions of dollars and give individual schools a measure of flexibility not present in the current law. Opponents say voters clearly wanted to cap class sizes at the levels they passed into law in 2002, and that students and teachers benefit from smaller class sizes.

Amendment Nine: Nullification of Federal Health-care Law
This amendment would prevent any government from requiring that individuals, employers or health-care providers participate in any health care program. The proposal specifically exempts programs already in effect, which would include Medicare and Medicaid. The proposal allows patients to pay their health-care providers directly instead of going through a third-party insurer
            The amendment states, in part:
            (1) A law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer, or
                 healthcare provider to participate in any health care system
            (2) A person or employer may pay directly for lawful health care services and shall not be
                 required to pay penalties or fines for paying directly for lawful health care services. A        
                 health care provider may accept direct payment for lawful health care services and
                 shall not be required to pay penalties or fines for accepting direct payment from a
                 person or employer for lawful health care services.

Referendum on Deficit Spending:
Unlike Florida lawmakers, who must balance state revenues with spending every year, Congress has the ability to spend more than it collects. The federal government’s willingness to use money it doesn’t have has long been a bone of contention among political theorists. The debate has intensified in recent years as the federal government, despite shrinking revenues brought on by recession and tax cuts, has used deficit spending to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bank bailout and an economic stimulus program to boost the country out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. The national debt now threatens to exceed the Gross Domestic Product for the first time since World War II. Fiscal conservatives are calling on Congress to close the purse.
The Florida Legislature has placed on the Nov. 2 ballot a nonbinding resolution that asks whether voters support a constitutional requirement that the federal government balance its budget.

To ask a follow on question or to send Senator Don Gaetz an Email:  http://www.gulf1.com/Elected/gaetz/Gaetzmail.htm




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