It looks like the Constitutional Revision Commission’s elaborate packaging worked.
They are still counting the ballots today because, well, this is Florida. But at least on the constitutional amendments, we know what won. And surprise! All but one passed.
The outcome validates Constitutional Revision Commission’s much-criticized decision to bundle unrelated things into take-it-or-leave-it packages. Everything the group proposed passed except its education bundle. The Florida Supreme Court struck that from the ballot as too deceptive to present to voters.
[READ MORE: Voters beware! The Supremes pass along the bundles]
[READ MORE: Amendments on the 2018 Florida ballot]
The only proposal that lost was Amendment 1, which would give an added homestead exemption to homeowners but only kicked in at $100,000 of assessed property value. This got a majority but not the 60 percent needed for passage. The amendment would have meant the loss of millions in tax revenue to local governments.
It was put there by the Florida Legislature to attract more-affluent voters to the midterms to vote themselves a tax cut. That it fell short is surprising. This was supposed to be what political consultants call “ballot bait.”
The Amendment 2 tax limitation. It extended a break that already exists. So, it’s not as if it will have unforeseen effects.
Amendment 3. That requires a referendum before allowing new casino gambling. That means that the Florida Senate finally will stop its push for “destination casinos,” sports betting, expanded slots and video lottery.
You probably got the mailings saying Amendment 3 will cut education. The amendment’s effect on current educational funding is zip, nada, diddly squat and anything else I would add if I could locate my thesaurus.
In a contest for the election’s most deceptive campaign advertising, this is a contender.
Amendment 4. That will let people convicted of felony regain the right to vote if they’ve served their sentence, paid their fine or completed probation. This does not include murderers or sex criminals.
In Florida, 1.68 million people are disenfranchised under current law, the harshest in the nation. Anyone convicted of even a low-level felony automatically loses the right to vote forever. One strike and you’re out.
This puts an end to the cruel charade of a clemency process for regaining voting rights.
Amendment 5. That locks in Florida’s rickety tax structure and means that a minority in the Legislature will be able to stop anything that smells of a tax hike. This means the chronic underfunding of Florida education will remain chronic for the foreseeable future.
Amendment 6. This is a bundle of criminal justice changes. The victims’ rights part of the part of the amendment was used to sell the whole.
What this will mean operationally within the courts is something that remains to be seen. Critics voiced concerns about court delays, longer sentences and unforeseen court costs, and all seem likely.
Amendment 7. This bundle used death benefits to the surviving spouses of first responders and members of the military who are killed on duty to sell changes in the oversight of higher education.
An oily political tactic, but mostly harmless.
Amendment 9. For reasons I’m still trying to figure out, it combines a ban on offshore drilling with a ban on workplace vaping. OK, I guess.
Amendment 10. This will be fascinating to watch going into effect. Volusia County is going to have to restructure its government, and we’ll gain an additional elected official, a tax collector. Volusians will be amazed when the bill comes due.
Amendment 11. This is a grab bag of minor updates. One that is welcome is it removes a racist 1926 provision in Florida's Constitution forbidding Asians from owning land. (No, it has nothing to do with illegal aliens, as internet rumor has it.) Courts long ago voided that prohibition so it and the other provisions will have roughly zero daily effect on anybody.
Amendment 12. This prohibits public officials from paid lobbying while in office and for six years afterward. I hate to sound cynical but expect the definition of “lobbying” to get a workout. (I’m not a lobbyist, I’m a public-affairs consultant for lobbyists.)
Amendment 13. This bans commercial dog races. And really that’s all. It won’t ban hunting. It won’t ban fishing. “We hold the ballot language does not mislead voters with respect to Amendment 13’s scope,” the Florida Supreme Court ruled. The court found that the language saying “humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value” was “prefatory.” Which means it’s merely throat clearing saying why the amendment is there.
So the voters have spoken. I’m looking forward to seeing how Amendment 10 gets put in place here and seeing what the dog track looks like next year or so. I think we’ll rue Amendment 5 someday and hope I’m around to remind people I said so.