The 2018 Florida Amendments, Tampa Bay referenda, what they actually mean and what we recommend

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AMENDMENTS

Amendment 1: No This is pretty much an unfair tax on renters and business, since it increases the amount of a home’s value exempted from property tax. If passed, the tax base shrinks, potentially forcing local governments to cut public services or raise local taxes.

Amendment 2: No If passed, this makes the cap on non-homestead property assessment increases permanent (think 2nd homes and commercial properties). Currently, it cannot rise by more than 10 percent a year. Fewer taxes mean fewer resources, and people with several homes and commercial property usually aren’t the first to suffer when local municipalities have to cut spending.

Amendment 3: Yes If you think that the authority to expand gambling should be returned to voters (instead of letting state legislature or the Constitution Revision Commission do it), then vote “Yes” on 3 and make people get involved in their government.

Amendment 4: Yes Amendment 4 would give some Florida felons the right to vote after completing all the requirements of their sentence. Felons convicted of murder or sexual offenses will still require a case-by-case review, so there’s no reason to not fill the “Yes” bubble on the ballot and restore civil rights for so many who deserve them.

Amendment 5: No A two-thirds majority vote is unreasonable, especially when it comes to the notion of raising or imposing taxes (right now, it’s a simple majority). This passing would tie the hands of lawmakers and make it nearly impossible to address budget needs in tough times.

Amendment 6: No Victims’ rights are already protected in the state Constitution, and this poorly constructed amendment also increases the judicial retirement age while additionally banning courts from deferring to a state admin agency’s expertise on interpreting a law or rule. It also eliminates an existing provision that protects the constitutional rights of the accused, so nah.

Amendment 7: No This jumbled mess of an amendment mashes together multiple issues: requiring death benefits for first responders and military members, requiring a supermajority (two-thirds) vote for college fees, and adding state college system structure to the constitution by creating the Florida College System. Let's deal with these issues separately, please.

Amendment 9: Yes A cluster amendment that lumps a ban on vaping at indoor workplaces with a ban on oil drilling beneath waters controlled by Florida. Normally, this would be a “No” due to the nonsensical combination, but we’ve got a chance to seriously protect the environment here.

Amendment 10: No Sheriff, clerk of courts, tax collector, property appraiser and supervisor of elections are already elected offices in most counties, and the counties themselves should be able to choose whether or not that’s the case. This one forces every county to elect rather than appoint those offices — leave it up to the counties.

Amendment 11: No Why is the repeal of a non-enforceable, nearly century-old provision in the constitution (which bars immigrants who aren’t eligible for citizenship from owning property in Florida) lumped in with the erasure of an already-repealed constitutional amendment ordering the construction of a high-speed train? Because also included on 11 is language that would allow lawmakers to make some changes to criminal laws retroactive. Nope.

Amendment 12: No A half-assed attempt to solve problems of money and influence in politics prohibits public officials (including the governor and judges) from lobbying for compensation while in office and six years thereafter. Sounds good on paper, but the broad application and six-year time frame isn’t right. Try again.

Amendment 13: Yes This one ends legal wagering on inhumane dog racing by 2020. It also lets the dog tracks continue offer other types of gambling, including poker rooms.


HILLSBOROUGH REFERENDA

Referendum No. 2 (Transportation) and Referendum No. 3 (Schools): Yes and Yes More than 77,000 Hillsborough residents signed a petition to put No. 2 — an increase Hillsborough's sales tax by 1 cent for 30 years — on the ballot, and the county’s public schools desperately need No. 3 (a half-cent sales tax) as a new source of revenue to help repair broken air-conditioning units and repair aging roofs, plumbing, windows and more. If both pass, Hillsborough's sales tax would be the highest in the state at 8.5 cents, but oversight committees would ensure that our kids, roads and public transit are better taken care of for years to come.


CLEARWATER STRONG MAYOR REFERENDUM

Undecided Does anyone want to be the Bob Buckhorn or Rick Kriseman of Clearwater? Yes, apparently, and Clearwater voters will make the decision to move away from its council-manager form of city governance (where council members hire a city manager, not an elected politician, to execute policy and hire or fire staff, amongst other things) on November 6. Supporters of the referendum point to Tampa and St. Pete as good models of strong-mayor cities, but Miami and Tallahassee seem to be doing fine in their council-manager mode. Critics who favor the accountability in the council-manager system say it’s just too much power in one person’s hands.


ST. PETERSBURG REFERENDA

St. Pete Pier: Yes Tampa Bay Watch — one of the Bay area’s favorite nonprofit conservation groups — would like a longer lease (10 years instead of five) so that its planned investments (about $2M according to them) in a 2,900-square-foot education center with interactive exhibits and classrooms feel a little more worth it. The nonpartisan League of Women Voters says that this amendment would not affect existing protections for any parcel of land, including nearby Spa Beach. Citizens group Save Spa Beach Park opposes the amendment, however, citing concerns that the language in the referendum could potentially set the stage for future development on Spa Beach Park.

Harborage Marina: Yes The taxpayers will pay nothing when Harborage Marina amends a 2007 lease with the city so it can increase submerged lands and build a new wave attenuator dock (up to 200 feet long) to calm the water in Bayboro Harbor and act as a mooring place for additional boats. Sound cool? Check “Yes.”

Check out our candidate recommendations here, and look at our quick-hit cheat sheet, too.

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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