Voting on 11 Amendments to Florida's Constitution: Analysis Available, Future Property Tax Revenues Will Be Impacted

by Rosa Eckstein Schechter
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Florida has 11 proposed amendments to its state constitution, some of which will impact Florida's real estate industry directly while others may have more of an indirect impact on real estate development and investment here.  What those amendments are, and what they will do, has been confusing to many so the non-profit James Madison Institute has published a special edition of its Journal to help Florida votes understand what the brouhaha about changing the Florida Constitution in 2012 is all about.

Its offering is getting lots of media coverage and the pdf of its free Special Edition is being shared around the state this week. 

The Proposed 11 Amendments to the Florida Constitution

These 11 amendments have been suggested and proposed by the Florida Legislature. In brief, they are:

  • Amendment 1, cannot force anyone in Florida to buy health insurance.
  • Amendment 2, U.S. veterans suffering disabilities as a result of combat duty pay less property tax, calculated on the percentage of disability they suffer. 
  • Amendment 3, Florida state government budget cannot spend over the rate of inflation and population growth (changes the current cap on state government spending).
  • Amendment 4, changes to property taxation in Florida:
    • a.  sets limit on the rate of valuation of commercial property (and non-homestead property)
    • b.  addresses the "recapture rule" where a homestead's assessment currently can increase despite the market value going down.
    • c.  allows a short-term stimulus where new residential property buyers get a bigger tax exemption.
  • Amendment 5,  provides for the State Senate to confirm the Florida Governor's nominees to open spots on the Florida Supreme Court.
  • Amendment 6 outlaws the use of public money to pay for abortions.
  • Amendment 7 has been withdrawn.
  • Amendment 8 takes out language from the Florida Constitution so faith-based organizations are able to recieve public money.
  • Amendment 9 gives a tax exemption to surviving spouses of U.S veterans and First Responders.
  • Amendment 10 gives a tax exemption on "tangible personal property" (office equipment, office furniture, etc.) to $50,000 (right now it's $25,000).
  • Amendment 11 gives property tax exemption to seniors below a set income level (less than $27,000/yr) to help them stay in their homes despite rising market values.
  • Amendment 12 the Student Representative on the Florida Board of Governors will be elected by the student body presidents.

The James Madison Institute Analysis

The James Madison analysis not only details each amendment but outlines the arguments that have been made for and against its passage.  Finally, the James Madison Institute concludes with its own opinion of the merits of around half of the proposed changes to our state consititution (they take a stand on six of the amendments). 

Who is the James Madison Institute?

The James Madison Institute is a "free market" think tank based in Tallahassee, Florida, which operates as a non-profit organization without federal funding.  From its website, the Instititute describes its mission as:

The Institute’s mission is to keep the citizens of Florida informed about their government and to shape our state’s future through the advancement of practical free-market ideas on public policy issues.

The Institute achieves its mission through research, conferences and seminars, and a variety of publications.

Since its inception in 1987, the Institute has remained independent, nonprofit, and nonpartisan. It makes no attempt to aid or hinder the passage of legislation, nor does it accept government funds or respond to special pleadings from any sector.

Other Amendment Synopses (With Commentary) Also Available for Free

Other publications have also been issued in Florida to help voters decide on the issues.  They are also free and available on the web and include these organization's opinions on each amendment -- which may not coincide with that of the James Madison Institute.

These include Amendment Analyses provided by:

  1. The Florida Division of Elections
  2. The League of Women Voters
  3. Volusia Council of Governments
  4. The Collins Center for Public Policy
  5. Vote Smart Florida

 

Written by:

Rosa Eckstein Schechter
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