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Florida Voters Approve Majority of Constitutional Amendments

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The numbers are in and with a long list of Florida constitutional amendments, the voters have decided they approve of the majority of the amendments placed on the ballot.

1. Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption: Not Approved

Florida retains the current homestead tax exemptions, which total $50,000. A yes vote would have Allows homeowners to deduct up to another $25,000 from the taxable value of a home worth more than $100,000 up to $125,000 starting on January 19, 2019.

2. Limitations on Property Tax Assessments: Approved

The 10 percent limit on increases in tax value for vacation homes, commercial property and apartments is now permanent.

It effectively limits increases on tax bills.

3. Voter Control of Gambling in Florida: Approved

Any new casino gambling will require approval through a citizen initiative constitutional amendment.

4. Voter Restoration Amendment: Approved

Ex-felons in the state of Florida will get their voting rights restored upon completion of their full sentence including probation and parole requirements. This does not apply to ex-felons convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

5. Supermajority requirement to impose, authorize, or raise state taxes or fees: Approved

The state legislature will now need a supermajority (two thirds) to increase existing taxes and fees or impose new ones. Any new or increased taxes or fees be voted on in standalone bills, eliminating log rolling of tax legislation. All local governments will be excluded from this supermajority requirement.

6. Rights of Crime Victims; Judges: Approved

Place a series of rights for victims of crime in the Constitution that are currently in state law. Eliminates an existing constitutional provision that ensures victims’ right don’t infringe on the rights of accused criminals. The mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices will now be 75 instead of 70. This amendments also stops judges and courts from deferring to an administrative agency interpretation of state laws or rules when deciding cases.

7. First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities: Approved

The board of trustees for the state public university system will now require a supermajority from members to increase student fees or impose new ones. State and local governments will now be required to pay death benefits to first responders if they die in the line of duty. The definition of first responders will expand to include paramedics and emergency medical technicians. The state of Florida will also be required to pay death benefits to U.S. military service members.

9. Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces; Approved

Constitution will now include a ban on oil and gas drilling beneath Florida state waters. This applies only to water that is under state control and not to waters under federal control. Using electronic vaping devices, like e-cigarettes, will now be banned inside the workplace. It will also open the gateway for local governments to place stricter limits on the use of vaping devices.

10. State and Local Government Structure and Operation: Approved

All counties must elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and Clerk of Circuit Court. This applies to “charter counties” that have mostly done away with or altered the jobs of constitutional officers. This amendment also requires the legislature to convene in early January on even numbered years, create an office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and mandate the existence of a state Department of Veterans affairs.

11. Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statues: Approved

Non-citizens will not be prohibited from buying owning and selling property anymore. This amendment also deletes a provision that state to prosecute a criminal suspect under the law they were originally charged under even if the legislature changes that law. Obsolete language related to a high speed rail in Florida is deleted.

12. Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officials: Approved

Expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees. Elected officials must now wait six years instead of two before they are able to lobby state government. Judges who leave the bench will also have to wait six years before they are able to lobby. The passage of this amendment also means sitting legislators can’t lobby federal or local governments. It also stops officeholders and public employees from using their position to gain disproportionate benefits for themselves or their families.

13. Dog Racing: Approved

Wagering on any type of dog racing as of Dec. 31 2020 is prohibited. Dog tracks will still be able to offer other types of gambling including poker rooms.