With all challenges now disposed of by the Florida Supreme Court, voters will have to decide whether to vote YES or NO on twelve proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution on November 6th.
Reversing a decision by a Tallahassee trial court, the supreme court on October 17, 2018, ruled that Amendments 7, 9, and 11 will appear on the November ballot despite complaints of “logrolling” by the 37-member Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). Four other CRC-proposed amendments (Amendments 6, 10, 12, and 13) withstood earlier legal challenges. Only one, the so-called “Charter School Amendment,” or Amendment 8, failed to make it to the ballot. Amendment 8 would have taken sole authority to approve charter schools away from school boards, thereby creating new avenues for establishing charter schools and expanding school choice options. It also would have created an eight-year term limit for school board members and required the Legislature to promote civil literacy in public schools.
Revisions or amendments to the Florida Constitution come about in any of four ways: by joint resolution of the Legislature; through the CRC process which, under the constitution, occurs only every 20 years; by citizen initiative petition; and by constitutional convention. Any proposed revision or amendment making it onto the ballot must receive at least 60% approval by voters to become effective.
Many of the challenges to the amendments proposed by the CRC stemmed from the fact that several combine, or “bundle,” more than one subject. But as the supreme court explained in its October 17, 2018, decision, the CRC isn’t limited by the single-subject requirement applied to amendments initiated by citizen petition. This is so because “the Florida Constitution expressly authorizes bundling, as it gives the CRC authority to revise the entire constitution or any part of it.” And the CRC process, which involves months of public hearings for citizen input and debate, “embodies adequate safeguards to protect against logrolling and deception.”
Still, with twelve proposed amendments to consider – some covering multiple topics – in addition to the Governor and Cabinet races and a host of others, Floridians will have a lot to weed through when they step into the voting booth on Election Day. The following chart, put together by Gunster’s government affairs practice, provides a useful quick-reference guide on the amendments and their effects if approved by the voters.
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This publication is for general information only. It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken that might be influenced by this publication.
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