By Wesley Martin
The League of Women Voters of the Pensacola Bay Area held an informational last Saturday, September 8, at the Good Hope AME Church in Warrington to educate citizens on the State of Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments for the 2012 general election. Janet deLorge along with Steve Marvin, both with LWV, facilitated the event.
“Florida is one of seven states that does not have a state income tax,” deLorge said.
Because Florida does not have a state tax, many counties rely on property taxes to operate. But, warned deLorge, voters need to be cognizant that every tax cut directly affects the services a local government can provide like law enforcement, fire departments and even emergency assistance.
“Since 1789 the U.S. constitution has been amended 27 times,” deLorge said. “However, the Florida constitution has been changed many times. And this year the state legislature in Florida has put 11 proposed amendments on the ballot.”
The following are briefs of the 11 proposed amendments:
Amendment 1 – Health Care Services: If passed, would attempt to exempt Floridians from requirements of the individual mandate section of the Federal Affordable Care Act. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the federal Government’s right to impose the individual mandate, the legal status of this amendment is questionable.
Amendment 2 – Veterans Disabled Due to Combat Injury: Homestead Property Tax Discount: If passed, would provide a property tax discount to all Florida veterans who are over 65 and disabled as a result of a combat injury. Currently this exemption only applies to veteran who ere Florida residents when they enlisted. Revenue loss to local government as a result of passage of the amendment: $15 million over 3 years.
Amendment 3 – State Government Revenue Limitation: If passed, would place a stricter limit on state revenues that would be based on inflation and population growth, instead of personal income growth as the Florida Constitution currently sates.
Amendment 4 – Property Tax Limitations: If passed, would extend tax breaks to certain business property owners and first-time home buyers. Revenue loss to local government as a result of passage of the amendment: $1 billion over 3 years.
Amendment 5 – State Courts: If passed, would adda requirement that a Florida Supreme Court Justice must be confirmed by the Senate after appointment by the Governor. Also would authorize the repeal of a court rule by a simple majority of each house of the Legislature rather than a two-thirds vote as currently required and allow the Florida house expanded access to review files involving judges accused o misconduct.
Amendment 6 – Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions: Construction of Abortion Rights: If passed, would restate in the Florida Constitution current federal and state law that prohibits public funds from being used for an abortion or health insurance coverage fo abortion. It would also limit the constitutional right to privacy to specifically exclude it from being applied to cases involving abortion-related issues.
Amendment 8 – Religious Freedom: If passed, would repeal the 126-year-old provision in the Florida Constitution that prohibits taxpayer funding of religious institutions including schools through voucher programs
Amendment 9 – Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Surviving Souse of Military Veteran or First Responder: if passed, would eliminate property taxes for the surviving spouses of military veterans, law enforcement offices, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency, medical technicians and paramedics who die while on the active duty or in the line of duty. Revenue loss to local government as a result of passage of the amendment: $1.8 million over three years.
Amendment 10 – Tangible Personal Property tax exemption: If passed, would raise the tax exemption for machinery, equipment or other business property from $25,000 to $50,000 and allow cities or counties to approve additional tax exemptions. Revenue loss to local governments as a result of passage of the amendment: $60.3 million.
Amendment 11 – Additional homestead exemption: Low-Income Seniors who Maintain Long-Term Residency on Property; Equal Assessed Value: If passed, would eliminate property taxes for those 65 and older who lived in their home for at least 25 years and have an annual household income of less than $27,030 and own a home with a value of less than $250,000. Revenue loss to local government as a result of passage of the amendment: $27.9 million.
Amendment 12 – Appointment of Student Body President to Board of Governors of the State University System:
If passed, would change the method of appointing the student member of the University System Board of Governors from the President of the Florida Student Association to the Chair of a Council of state university student body presidents.
Source: League of Women Voters