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Proposed Constitutional Amendments

On November 4th we will be asked to vote on three Amendments to the Florida Constitution. Do you know what they are? Do you know how they will affect you? Click here for the whole document. On the ballet will be Amendment No. 1 Water and Land Conservation Amendment, Amendment No. 2 Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions (The Medical Marijuana Amendment), and Amendment No. 3 Prospective Appointment of Certain Judicial Vacancies.

How does a constitutional Amendment get on the ballet? One way is called a Citizens' Initiative. This method with some limits, grants Florida citizens the right to initiate constitutional amendments. To amend the Constitution by citizen initiative, proponents must form a political committee, register with the Division of Elections and then create a petition. After the Division of Elections reviews and approves the petition, supporters must demonstrate that there's sufficient popular support for their measure to merit certification by the Secretary of State. To qualify for the ballot, proponents must collect signatures from registered voters equal to at least 8% of the total number of statewide votes cast in the previous Presidential election, and the signatures must be from at least 13 of Florida's 25 Congressional districts. Additionally at least 10% of the total number of signatures required to qualify for the ballot must be gathered from at least seven Congressional districts.

Once signatures are validated by the Supervisors of Elections, the SECSTATE certifies the petition for Florida Supreme Court review. If the Court approves, the initiative is qualified to go on the ballot for the next general election. Of note, Florida has a very strict single-subject rule, requiring each initiative to address just one subject (except amendments limiting the power of government to raise revenue, which are exempted from the single-subject restriction). While initiative petitions may circulate indefinitely, a voter's signature is only valid for four years from the date it was signed. After the proposed amendment qualifies for the ballot, a financial impact statement is developed and included on the ballot, if applicable.

All Constitutional Amendments must have 60% (a super majority) to pass. Let’s review this years proposed amendments.

Amendment No. 1 Water and Land Conservation Amendment

This funds the Land Acquisition Trust fund with 33% of net revenues from the existing document excise tax for 20 years. The funds will be used to acquire, restore, improve and manage lands. Lands include, wetlands, forest, fish and wildlife habitat, beaches and shore lines, outdoor recreation lands, parks, urban open space, rural landscapes, working farms and ranches and historic or geologic sites.

The projected revenues are $648 million in fiscal 2015-2016 growing to $1.268 billion by the 20th year. The money will allow the state government to acquire land that is currently owned by individuals and private companies, who pay local property tax, and be placed in the hands of the state government and off local tax rolls. They say the impact to local governments cannot be determined.

Amendment No. 2 Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions (The Medical Marijuana Amendment)

Allows for use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. As defined in the amendment a debilitating disease is cancer, glaucoma, HIV, AIDS, hepatitis C, ALS, crohn’s disease, parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis or other conditions for which a physician believes that the medical use of marijuana would likely outweigh the potential health risk for a patient.

The increased cost to state and local governments cannot be determined. If marijuana is used for medical purposes it cannot be taxed. The State will have to regulate the new industry and issue medical cards to patients and care givers, as well as develop procedures for the registration of medical marijuana treatment centers that include procedures for the issuance, renewal, suspension, and revocation of registration and standards to ensure security, record keeping, testing, labeling, inspection and safety.

Nothing in the amendment protects doctors or patients from prosecution under federal law, only from Florida law.

If you use marijuana and operate a motor vehicle, boat, or aircraft you can still be arrested for DUI.

No place of education, employment of public place has to make accommodations for the use of medical marijuana.

Insurance companies will not be required to pay for anyone using medical marijuana.

Amendment No. 3 Prospective Appointment of Certain Judicial Vacancies.

This amendment was put on the ballet by the Florida Legislature. It only modifies Article V, Sections 10,11 and requires the Governor to prospectively fill vacancies in a judicial office when they meet the mandatory retirement age or are not retained at an election. Currently the governor can choose not fill the expected vacancy until the current justice’s term expires.

Please review the attached document and learn how these constitutional amendments to the Florida Constitution will affect you and your Community.



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