Break’s over. Let’s get back to it.  In Part I of Void’s WTF are these Ballot initiatives, explained, we broke down the first six proposed amendments on the Florida ballot. Now, it’s time to take a look at the remaining six.

“But wait,” you say. “There are 13 total proposed amendments on this years ballot. 6 + 6 = 12.”

Exactly! This is why we’re trying to sift through the confusion. Don’t worry, it will all be clear shortly. (Mud anyone?)

NOTE 1: We’re glad you’ve shown the gumption to read this and be informed, but as we suggested in the last post, do your homework. Check out part I, here.

Diving right back in:

Amendment No. 7 – First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities

The bundling continues. Here, again, we have three items that have zero to do with each other.

The first part would require employers of first responders to pay the surviving spouses the death benefits due and waive certain education fees for said spouses. This includes (a) firefighters; (b) paramedics; (c) emergency medical technicians (EMTs); (d) law enforcement officers; (e) correctional officers; (f) correctional probation officers; and (g) members of the Florida National Guard)

NOTE: State statutes already provide for death benefits for law enforcement, correctional, and correctional probation officers, firefighters, and members of the Florida National Guard.

OK, got it? Good, but that’s not all.

The next part requires a supermajority (66%) of trustees in order to impose the fees that the legislature has already authorized. Trustees are the governing board members at each university; 13 members for each university in the state system. The amendment states that the supermajority will be necessary only if the legislature says that the trustees need to approve any fee increase.

Bureaucratic as hell, yes. Now, let’s get wild. The last part basically makes the entire State of Florida college system (community and state colleges) into one big school board residing under the Florida Department of Education. And here’s the kicker, unlike every school board in the state, the people WILL NOT be allowed to elect the members of this school board; they will be appointed by the governor to four-year terms.

A Yes vote means: Employers come outta pocket for the spouses of  certain deceased public employees. Legislators will never again require trustee approval on anything. And your school mascot may be a no-show this basketball season because they will be up in Tallahassee lobbying.

A No vote means: Leaves both death benefits of first responders and university governing boards as they currently stand.

Amendment No. 8 – (Does not exist anymore)

Amendment 8 was so screwy that it was deemed too misleading to be on the ballot. Oh man, this thing was a gem of subterfuge! In case you’re curious, read the amendment here, and the ruling here.

Amendment No. 9 – Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workspaces

I’m not gonna lie to you. This is my FAVORITE amendment ever. It is as clear as a proposed amendment can be. What I love is the image of some vape-bro sitting in the enclosed office space of some offshore oil rig drilling the crystal-clear waters off of Daytona Beach, bellowing plumes white smoke into his coworker’s faces. #Floridaman?

A Yes vote means: You don’t want to see oil rigs lining the horizon, nor clouds of vape smoke rising from the adjacent cubicle.

A No vote means: Drill, baby, drill. Plus, you can cut the next office meeting short by choking everyone out of the room.

Amendment No. 10 – State and Local Government Structure and Operation

Strap in. The bundling can be confusing and frustrating and requires focused dissection to arrive at a Yes or No vote.

There are SIX different items bundled into this proposed amendment. Six! This is the fine work of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), a committee comprised of state legislators. Fine folks. Good, hard working people. Insane, though, for bundling this monster of an amendment. Here is what they are trying to cover… IN ONE AMENDMENT:

  • The Department of Veteran Affairs
  • Elections of sheriffs, tax collectors, property appraisers, election supervisors, etc.
  • Removal of power from charter counties
  • Legislative session start date
  • Oh, and COUNTERTERRORISM

A Yes vote means:  You are cool with changes that require, rather than authorize, the legislature to provide for a state Department of Veterans Affairs, create a state Office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism, require the legislature to convene regular session on the second Tuesday of January of even-numbered years and prohibit counties from abolishing certain local offices—sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, and clerk of the circuit court—and requiring elections for these offices.

A No vote means:  State Department of Veterans Affairs remains authorized; no new creation of Office of Domestic Security and Counter-Terrorism; legislative sessions remain on their current schedule; offices of local officials remain appointed, not elected and certain local offices can be abolished, as the counties see fit.

Amendment No. 11 – Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provisions; Criminal Statutes

And the bundle rolls. Whatever. Amendment 11 removes language currently in the Florida Constitution which allows legislators to prevent non-citizens from buying, selling, owning or inheriting property.

It removes a provision from way back in 1885 (yeah, you read that right) that forbids new sentencing laws from retroactive application. In other words, if there is a change in the sentencing of your aforementioned weed-dealing friend (see Void Votes Pt. I), he or she could not benefit from the updated laws; they’d have serve the original sentence.

Lastly, amendment 11 removes language from the constitution that requires a high-speed rail system.

A Yes vote means: You understand the Florida real estate market, you realize that no one alive in 1885 matters anymore and that that once-gilded ideal of a state connected via train has run out of steam (sorry for that!)

A No vote means: Non-citizens can be prevented from owing and inheriting homes (and you are OK with taking the South Florida real estate market, which is buttressed by foreign investments in property.) Ye be swell with dated legislative language penned in the days of yore. You want a choo-choo train for your birthday, dammit.

Amendment No. 12 – Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers

Currently, public officials have to wait for two years before they can embark on a lucrative lobbying career. This proposed amendment increases that waiting period to six years.

A Yes vote means: Florida will have the most strict government ethics laws in the Union.

A No vote means: You are cool with the current 2-year moratorium.

Amendment No. 13 – Ends Dog Racing

Proposes that all commercial dog racing in the state ends by 2020. Gaming facilities can still provide all sorts of other gambling opportunities.

A Yes vote means: Set them free.

A No vote means: Set the pace.

Depending on where in the state you find yourself, the remainder of the ballot has a few more local provisos, each equally as important and each requiring your time and due diligence (most notably perhaps for residents of Duval County, there’s a voter referendum concerning a possible sale of JEA, the 8th largest public utility in the nation and one that currently fills the city of Jacksonville’s coffers with a large sum of moolah each year).

We hope this quick breakdown helps get you to the polls with clarity. The ballot takes time and energy to comprehend, but you passed middle school civics and, hey, Democracy is fun, just not always easy.