Florida Amendments: Here are 6 constitutional amendment proposals on November 2020 ballot

Rob Landers and Isadora Rangel Florida TodayPublished 6:00 AM EDT Sep 20, 2020There will be six constitutional

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There will be six constitutional amendment proposals on the Nov. 3. To be adopted into the Florida Constitution, each proposal must receive at least 60% of the votes statewide.

To read the full ballot language for each amendment, click here.

Are you registered to vote?  Visit voterguide.floridatoday.com to check!

Amendment 1

What it would do: It would change one word in Section 2 of Article VI of the state Constitution regarding who can vote in the state. 

The section currently states “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered."

Amendment 1 would change the word “every” to “Only a.” 

This change would have no legal impact to voting in Florida as only citizens can legally vote here now.

Who supports it: Florida Citizen Voters is the group that got the amendment on the ballot. It's unclear who's behind the group because it is funded by secret donors. The group's leader John Loudon has said the amendment is necessary to ensure noncitizens cannot vote.

Who's against it: There's no clear opposition to Amendment 1. The proponents of a different proposed ballot measure to deregulate Florida's monopolized utilities system suspected last year Amendment 1 was a tactic by utility companies to sabotage the measure, which didn't make on the ballot. According to that theory, Amendment 1 would have created a bidding war for petition gatherers needed to get the required number of signatures. Loudon has denied he was working with other groups, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Database:  How your representatives and senators voted

Amendment 2

What it would do: Amendment 2 would incrementally increase the minimum wage of Florida workers from $8.56 per hour to $15 per hour by 2026. If passed, the minimum wage would increase to $10 on Sept. 30, 2021, and increase $1 a year thereafter until it reached $15 in 2026, with standard cost of living increases resuming in 2027.

Who supports it: Orlando trial attorney John Morgan helped bankroll this proposal (he also was behind the successful medical marijuana ballot initiative in 2016). Florida For A Fair Wage, the group that gathered petition signatures for Amendment 2, and  progressive groups say Florida's current minimum wage is not enough to keep up with the rising cost of living in the state, especially housing. They also say the measure would boost the state economy because working-class people would have more money to spent.

Who's against it: The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association are among the amendment's biggest opponents. They claim it would lead to job losses, worker hours being cut and a devastating impact to a state economy already struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amendment 3

What it would do: It would open Florida’s closed primary elections for state legislators, governor, and Cabinet officials like the attorney general. Under the current rules, only voters registered with a party can vote to decide who will represent them in the general election. Amendment 3 would create a top-two open primary system that would list all qualified candidates on the primary ballot and allow all registered Florida voters, including those without party affiliation, to choose. The top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, would move to the general election.

Who's for it: Supporters say closed primaries disenfranchise independent voters, who are a growing segment of Florida's electorate. They also argue candidates would have to appeal to a broader share of voters in an open primary, therefore becoming better representatives of their communities. South Florida health care businessman Mike Fernandez, finance chairman to then-Gov. Rick Scott's 2014 re-election campaign, has substantially funded the group behind Amendment 3, All Voters Vote.

Who's against it: The Democratic and Republican parties oppose it. Also in opposition is a group called People Over Profits, which is concerned Amendment 3 would hurt minority representation in Tallahassee by opening primaries in majority-Black Democratic districts to white Republican and independent voters. Another argument against the measure is that the top two candidates in an open primary might be of the same party, leaving voters of the other party without an option in the general.

Amendment 4

What it would do: It would require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters twice — at two successive general elections, each time getting 60% of the votes. Currently, amendments must be approved once.

Who's for it: The petition drive was organized by Keep Our Constitution Clean. The Sun Sentinel has reported the group is funded through a nonprofit connected to a lobbying organization for Florida Power & Light, U.S. Sugar Corp. and other big businesses. Supporters say it should be hard to amendment the Constitution and that many amendments deal with matters that should be handled by the Legislature. Also, once the Constitution is changed, it's very difficult to reverse that.

Who's against it: The League of Women Voters of Florida opposes Amendment 4, arguing that it would end the citizen-led constitutional amendment process. Amending the constitution already is a cumbersome and expensive process that requires gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures. 

Amendment 5

What it would do: Currently, the state Constitution gives a person two years to transfer the "Save Our Home" benefits, which range from $25,000 to $50,000 in homestead exemptions, over to their new “homestead.” Amendment 5 would extend that period by a year to three years.

Who supports it: The Legislature placed Amendment 5 on the ballot. Homestead exemptions take effect on Jan. 1. Therefore, the sale of a home late in the year would effectively reduce the portability from two years to little more than one and a few days under the current rules. So Amendment 5 would help those homeowners.

Who's against it: The League of Women Voters of Florida says "placing restrictions in the Constitution, rather than passing local and state laws, limits local governments’ ability to manage their budgets to best respond to the needs of their communities." Local governments are funded largely with property taxes.

Amendment 6

What it would do: It would transfer Homestead Property Tax discounts of veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities to their surviving spouse. The discount would remain in effect until the spouse remarries, dies or sells or disposes of the property. Currently, that discount expires upon the veteran's death. 

Who supports it: The Florida Legislature placed Amendment 6 on the ballot to help spouses of disabled veterans keep their property taxes lower.

Who opposes: The League of Women Voters argues the amendment would reduce property tax revenue that funds schools and other services such as police, fire and infrastructure.

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