USA Guard’s 2018 State of Florida Constitutional Amendment Midterm Voting Guide

Florida the Sunshine State

This guide uses common sense and knowledge to determine what is best for the majority of Conservative voters. Remember that these require at least 60 percent of voters to say yes to pass, so if in doubt, vote NO.

November 6, 2018

On November 6, 2018, Florida voters will decide on the following 12 (#8 struck) Florida Constitutional Amendments. Most are convoluted, have many issues that don’t belong together and in almost all cases are very confusing. Hopefully, this will assist you in making sense of the proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments.

NOTE: Skip to the end to get a summary voting guide on Florida’s Constitutional Amendments to take to the polls with you.

AMENDMENT 1: Homestead Exemption Increase Amendment Vote YES Amendment 1 would give Florida homeowners a property tax break.  If your home is valued at $100,000 or more, you will get an additional $25,000 homestead exemption. It does not apply to school taxes.

By passing amendment one, Florida Homestead Increase would increase to $100,000 from $75,000 and while this could have a small impact on some government services via a shortfall that would be made up by people that do not own a primary residence in Florida. Yes on amendment one encourages home ownership in Florida.


AMENDMENT 2: Permanent Cap on Nonhomestead Parcel Assessment Increases Amendment Vote NO

Amendment 2 affects taxes for non-homeowners, like people who own rental properties, commercial buildings, and undeveloped land. It would make a temporary cap on their property taxes permanent.  The legislature agreed to a 10 percent cap, but only for 10 years — and that cap expires next year. Amendment Two would make it permanent.

This doesn’t belong in the constitution, and it is unlikely that in any given year property taxes would go up over 10% making this of no value and it should expire.


AMENDMENT 3: Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative Vote NO

This is designed to restrict the growth of casino gaming, though that’s not how it’s being sold. Voting “yes” does, indeed take the power to expand casino gambling away from lawmakers and gives it to voters. However, you only need to look at who is bankrolling his amendment to see whom it benefits. These groups pushing Amendment Three are Disney and the Seminole tribe which benefit greatly from limiting the expansion of gambling in Florida.

Simply put this is a con job by large corporations to ensure continued profits. It is unlikely if this passed that voters would ever approve any additional future gambling as another group behind this named Anti Casino Gambling wants. The lack of competition keeps development, new business, and hiring from happening.


AMENDMENT 4: Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative Vote NO

Would automatically restore voting rights to felons once they’ve served their sentences. Supporters have tried to win this argument in the legislature and in the courts without much success, so now, they’ve turned to voters.

Currently, a felon who has completed his or her sentence must wait five years before appearing before a clemency hearing. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker (appointed by Obama) has denounced this law, ruled against it citing First Amendment rights violations which is a common liberal tactic to obtain voters. It is under appeal until after the election.

From a Conservative point of view restoring felons right to vote would only benefit Democrats since the majority of felons are from low income or are minorities that would most likely vote Democrat.


AMENDMENT 5: Two-Thirds Vote of Legislature to Increase Taxes or Fees AmendmentVote YES

This amendment would require any new taxes or fees to have the approval of two-thirds of each chamber of the Florida State legislature. Right now, only half are required.

With today’s political divide it is more important than ever to ensure that taxes and fees that are imposed on Florida residents are done in a non-partisan manner. By voting “yes,” it will force the legislature to work together on things that matter to all Floridians without bias from either party.


AMENDMENT 6: Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights, Judicial Retirement Age, and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment – Vote YES

Amendment 6 adds specific rights for crime victims and their families, together known as a Marsy’s Lawto the Florida Constitution. Marsy’s Law would provide crime victims, their families, and their lawful representatives with specific rights, including a right to due process and to be treated with fairness and respect; a right to be free from intimidation, harassment, and abuse; a right to have the victim’s welfare considered when setting bail; a right to proceedings free from unreasonable delay, and a voice in parole proceedings, among others things.

It is only fair that victims and their families have Rights by having a law that protects them from criminals and to have a say in if these convicted felons get freedom via parole.

In addition, it changes the retirement age of Judges from 70 to 75, and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment to prohibit state courts from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a state statute or rule in lawsuits.


AMENDMENT 7: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits, Supermajority Board Votes for College Fees, and State College System Amendment Vote NO

Amendment 7 would require employers to provide death benefits, as the state legislature defines, to the surviving spouses of first responders while engaged in official duties. The measure would require the state to provide death benefits, as the state legislature defines, to the surviving spouses of active-duty U.S. Armed Forces members who are accidentally killed or unlawfully and intentionally killed. The measure would also require the state to waive certain educational expenses, as defined in the statute, for the surviving children or spouse of the deceased first responder or military member in order to obtain a career certificate, an undergraduate education, or a postgraduate education

First Responders to include (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.

Key point: Not all of these First Responders work for the State. The Federal government holds the responsibility for the Federal employees. The first-responder benefits are already covered by state laws which makes this amendment unnecessary.

Amendment 7 would also require a nine-member vote of a university’s 13-member board of trustees (69.23 percent) and 12-member vote of the 17-member state board of governors (70.59 percent) to increase a college fee. As of 2018, a simple majority vote of a university’s board of trustees and the state board of governors is needed to increase a college fee. If passed it would make it very difficult to increase fees that could cripple any State College.

These two issues should not be voted on as one amendment as they are not related at all in the vaguely written proposal.  

This is a deceptive amendment proposal.


AMENDMENT 8: PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Florida Supreme Court Struck This From The Ballot – VOID


AMENDMENT 9: Ban Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and Ban Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Amendment – Vote YES

It would prohibit drilling for gas and oil in state coastal waters and ban vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces.

The Florida coastal region is one of the most critical points in Florida’s tourist industry. An oil rig accident would spell disaster for Florida’s economy. The harm would be immeasurable and long-lasting. Note it does not prohibit pipelines from rigs in US Federal water which is from 9+ to 12 miles offshore.

In 2002 vaping did not exist when the Constitutional Amendment was changed to ban smoking indoors. This amendment updates the 2002 Constitutional Amendment.


AMENDMENT 10: State and Local Government Structure Amendment Vote NO

On the surface, it sounds like a positive amendment especially the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs. However, it has already been created but not funded by the Florida legislature.

You don’t have to look deep into this convoluted amendment to see that it calls for all 67 counties to elect their sheriff, tax collector, elections supervisor and clerk of courts. Only one county, Miami-Dade, does not elect its sheriff, and only a handful do not elect the other constitutional officers. Forcing counties to require all these offices be filled by elected officials is not necessary especially when it comes to forcing counties (like Broward) that don’t have tax collectors that will add unneeded bureaucracy.

It would also supposedly change the Legislature’s session dates, which the legislature has already changed, and create an office of counter-terrorism in the Department of Law Enforcement, which already has one. 


AMENDMENT 11: PROPERTY RIGHTS; REMOVAL OF OBSOLETE PROVISION; CRIMINAL STATUTES – Vote NO

It would remove language that prohibits “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning property. It would remove obsolete language that authorizes a high-speed rail system that was repealed in 2004.

The reality is that a person deemed by the “aliens ineligible for citizenship” means they have no business in the US and certainly in this era of terrorism they should not be able to own property in Florida or anywhere in the US for that matter.

This portion would revise language to make clear that the repeal of a criminal statute does not affect the prosecution of any crime committed before the repeal. In other words, if a person is convicted of a crime and the sentencing mandates are changed they person serving time would be sentenced according to the new guidelines. Florida is one of only three states that still has this 1885 outdated and unfair amendment in its constitution.

These two issues are so far removed from each other and unfortunately is a split decision that when you weigh the safety of the State against benefits for convicted criminals, the State wins.


AMENDMENT 12: LOBBYING AND ABUSE OF OFFICE BY PUBLIC OFFICERS Vote YES

Expands current restrictions on lobbying for compensation by former public officers; creates restrictions on lobbying for compensation by currently serving public officers; provides exceptions; prohibits certain abuses of public office for personal benefit

It would impose a six-year lobbying ban on former state elected officials, state agencies heads and local elected officials. It would also create a new ethics standard that would prohibit public officials from obtaining a “disproportionate benefit” from their actions while in office.

Note: Currently with the two-year ban former public officers are being hired as consultants to lobbying firms thus skirting the law.


AMENDMENT 13: Ban on Wagering on Dog Races AmendmentVote NO

This would ban greyhound racing at Florida tracks after Dec. 31, 2020. This at first glance this is an emotional issue that would protect Greyhound dogs. It’s not clear they need protecting especially via a constitutional amendment. Dog racing in Florida is on the decline and the people’s interest in paying to see dog racing should decide this. This is really a gambling issue, and it solves nothing since even if dog racing were to be banned, it still allows to these para-mutual gambling establishments (poker, etc.) to continue.

USA Guard’s summary to take with you to vote:

AMENDMENT 1: Homestead Exemption Increase Amendment Vote YES

AMENDMENT 2: Permanent Cap on Nonhomestead Parcel Assessment Increases Amendment Vote NO

AMENDMENT 3: Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative Vote NO

AMENDMENT 4: Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative Vote NO

AMENDMENT 5: Two-Thirds Vote of Legislature to Increase Taxes or Fees AmendmentVote YES

AMENDMENT 6: Marsy’s Law Crime Victims Rights, Judicial Retirement Age, and Judicial Interpretation of Laws and Rules Amendment – Vote YES

AMENDMENT 7: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits, Supermajority Board Votes for College Fees, and State College System Amendment Vote NO

AMENDMENT 8: PUBLIC SCHOOLS: The Florida Supreme Court Struck This From The Ballot – VOID

AMENDMENT 9: Ban Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling and Ban Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Amendment – Vote YES

AMENDMENT 10: State and Local Government Structure Amendment Vote NO

AMENDMENT 11: PROPERTY RIGHTS; REMOVAL OF OBSOLETE PROVISION; CRIMINAL STATUTES – Vote NO

AMENDMENT 12: LOBBYING AND ABUSE OF OFFICE BY PUBLIC OFFICERS Vote YES

AMENDMENT 13: Ban on Wagering on Dog Races AmendmentVote NO

Early voting has started in Florida, and the election is on November 6, 2018. Vote and bring a friend or two with you.

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