Florida Elections – A Metric Ton of Amendments

If you plan on voting, you should read this article in the Gainesville Sun. Or at LEAST check out your sample ballot. There are a bunch of amendments on the table than should get your undivided attention.

Here is how I think you should vote, so listen up:

  • Amendment 8 requires the state to offer pre-kindergarten programs to every 4 year old in Florida. I tend to want to vote “NO” on this one, mostly because we can hardly handle paying for and organizing the education that is currently offered.
  • Amendment 9 requires Florida to limit class sizes in schools. Same deal. No means to pay for it. Just forces the school boards to do it. What does this mean? Higher property taxes, which affects people that own property, which is passed on to those of us who rent property. Assuming that is how they will pay for these requirements. I’m trying to find a sample ballot online because I think it says something about the state offering funding to support the class size amendment… I wonder where they’ll get the money?
  • Amendment 1 deals with the death penalty. Changes the language from “cruel or unusual” to “cruel and unusual”. Proponents say that the change in wording would reduce the number of appeals allowed for death row inmates. These are appeals that say “it doesn’t matter if my client is guilty… we don’t like that he’s getting the chair for what he did”. Sounds good to me! Yes!
  • Amendment 2 is for those people that blindly voted for the High Speed Railway without doing any research. See, the voters decided it would be a great idea to have fast trains in Florida and probably saw the notion for the first time when they voted. Little did they realize that it would cost the state approximately $22 billion. Your wallet is probably throbbing from that one! This amendment requires that any future amendments would require a price tag — so we know how much it will cost us to fund the amendment we’re voting for. (Like class size and pre-K!) Vote YES!
  • Amendment 6 regards smoking in workspaces. Let me preface this by saying that I abhor smoking. I loathe it. I think it’s horrible and nasty. It’s dangerous. Most smokers are rude. If you’ve read my “Roommate Chronicles”, then you know what kind of mess that my ex-roommate left with his cigarettes in our house. And they’re expensive! Three dollars a pack!?! Anyway, after having said all that, I admit that I think that people should have the right to smoke. And I also think that businesses should have the right to decide whether their restaurant (which will be affected by this amendment) would allow smoking. If I don’t want to go where there is smoking, I won’t go. I’ll “vote with my feet”. And if a restaurant’s numbers are down, they can change their mind and ban smoking IF THEY CHOOSE TO! There are current clean air laws already in place and we don’t need to further regulate and legislate this issue. Vote NO!
  • Amendment 10 is the pig crate amendment. Why is this even an amendment? It doesn’t need to be. Adding things like this to a ballot only adds more confusion and wordage to an already bloated and confusing ballot. And considering how stupid Florida voters are perceived to be by the nation, we should keep things as simple as possible. I’m voting “no”… but for no other reason than to go against the special interests that added an amendment to our ballot that has no real impact in the state. This problem can and should be addressed without an amendment.
  • Amendment 3, although it only applies to the Miami-Dade area, is an attempt by the legislature to take powers away from local government. Unacceptable! Vote NO!
  • Amendment 7 is the “granny flats” amendment and it gives tax breaks to people who add to their home for the purpose of creating living quarters so that they can house elderly relatives. How do I feel about this? Hmmm… not sure. I do like a tax break, that’s for certain. I guess I’ll vote “yes” on this… mainly because it allows the counties the option to adopt the resolution.

Local initiatives include:

  • A charter amendment allows Alachua County to set stricter campaign finance guidelines than the state imposes. I’m against most of the campaign finance measures because it ultimately limits free speech and gives too much power to the television stations and the incumbents. I think the state restrictions are enough… and this charter amendment doesn’t hint as to what the new restrictions would be anyway!
  • Another amendment deals with the creation of a Children’s Services Council which would levy new taxes by increasing property tax rates that would ultimately be used for “afterschool programs, recruiting of foster parents, programs to lower the dropout rate and pre-kindergarten education for children in low-income families.”
  • City Amendment 1 asks to add a new equal opportunity director position to the tune of $131,000 a year. Ouch!
  • Amendment 2 talks about keeping the current number of city commissioners at five versus adding two more. Vote YES… we don’t need more commissioners that can vote for pay increases like they did a couple of years ago.

Don’t take my word for it. Read the amendments carefully. And think about what they mean… beyond the surface. Do I want smaller class sizes? Pre-K? No smoking? Of course! But you just don’t vote for something and it magically happens… it has to be implemented and that can be painful! We are in an economic slowdown and cannot afford to implement amendments which on the surface seem like a good idea. Read and study the issues BEFORE you enter the ballot booth!

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