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2012 Florida Amendments

Amendment 1Ban a requirement for health insuImagerance. This seems to be backlash against Obamacare.  Since the U.S.Supreme court ruled this constitutional the amendment is more of just a statement of who supports nationalized healthcare and who doesn’t.  Vote Yes.

Amendment 2 -Allow disabled veterans who did not live in Florida when they joined the military to get the same property tax break that disabled veterans who did live in Florida when they joined get.  This simplifies the tax code and encourages retired veterans to move to Florida.  I suspect the loss of revenue will be easily made up for.  Vote Yes.

Amendment 3Change the way the Florida spending cap is calculated.   Although this cap hasn’t been reached, the new cap will be lower and might actual cap spending.  The cap is flexible based on inflation and population, so it won’t be unreasonably low even in a changing economy.  Looking at those who oppose this, it seems to be all liberal groups (Sierra Club Florida, AARP, most Democrats, etc.).  Vote Yes.

Amendment 4 – This one does four things.

1. Decreases the taxable value non-homesteaded property can increase each year. – I don’t like exceptions in the tax code and this would make tax values not be able to go up with home values for a subset of the population.

2. Doesn’t allow the taxable value of a property to go up when the market value decreases.  As I understand it, this includes even when the taxable value is still under the market value.  This adds needless complications to the tax code that help some and hurt others.

3. Adds an additional property tax exception for first-time home buyers.  Although I might benefit from this one, it seems like an across the board cut would be simpler and more equitable.

4. Delays certain repeals that are scheduled to take place for other amendments and delays the submission of an amendment proposing a repeal scheduled for another amendment.  As if this amendment wasn’t loaded enough, this sleight of hand at the bottom takes the cake.

This amendment covers lots of different groups, so who doesn’t it cover?  People who already own their first and only home and the taxable value is comparable to the market value.  Not sure why we would want to raise taxes for these in order to lower it for those above.  Vote No.

Amendment 5 – This amendment is backlash from the courts not allowing three amendments proposed by the legislature.  It adds some additional checks on the state judiciary from the legislative branch at the expense of the powers of the executive and judicial branches.  This would be good with a good legislature and bad otherwise.  It increases the complexity of government and has no clear benefits.  Fewer constitutional amendments is a good thing.  Also, the mere fact that this one made it past the judiciary seems to indicate that things aren’t that bad.  Vote No.

Amendment 6 – Limit which abortions can be funded by the state.  Although I’d rather no funds be used for murder, I’ll take this limit over no limit.  The amendment would also help stop the state courts from rejecting parental consent laws based on supposed right to privacy.  This amendment is opposed by Planned Parenthood (enough said).  Vote Yes.

Amendment 8 (new version of Amendment 7) – Removes a restriction discriminating against religious organizations in favor of secular ones.  Could potentially allow programs such as Gov. Jeb Bush’s Opportunity Scholarship Program which would have allowed children in failing schools to attend private schools using a voucher.  The program was struck down by the courts due to the “no aid” provision.  This amendment would stop that from happening again.  Strangely, supporters say it has nothing to do with this and simply protects religiously affiliated organizations that already receive taxpayer dollars.  The amendment is opposed by Americans United for Separation of Church and state and supported by Citizens for Religious Freedom and Non-Discrimination.  Vote Yes.

Amendment 9 – This would give a homestead property tax exemption for surviving spouse of military personnel or first responders.  This is a new blanket exemption that only helps a limited number of people in several different professions who would have varying need for such benefit.  To have a spouse die is quite a high loss such that no compensation can accommodate.  On the other hand, if additional compensation should be necessary, it seems that it should come from the group the person was serving for when they died.  If police officers widows aren’t treated well enough, then help them.  If military widows aren’t treated well enough then help them, etc.  What about pastors wives who lose their husbands?  What about anyone else who loses a spouse?  Nothing can restore the lost spouse and complicating the tax code and state constitution will not provide the appropriate help for those in need.  Vote No.

Amendment 11 – Another special homestead exemption, this time for low-income seniors who maintain long-term residency.  This again would increase taxes for some while lowering it for a specific group.  Individuals in the group may or may not need tax relief.  Take for example two seniors that both now make less than $27,000 a year and have lived in the same $240,000 house for the last 25 years.  The first realizes that they can no longer afford the house they are in and trade it in for a $100,000 house.  The second keeps their more expensive house until the amendment passes.  Now the sensible senior pays more in tax so that the other senior can live in a house they can’t afford.  Vote No.

Amendment 12 – Creates a new council consisting of student body presidents from 12 Florida universities.  The chair of which would be the student representative to the Board of Governors rather than the chair of the Florida Student Association.  It sounds like more complexity and cost both to the state university system and the state constitution.  Vote No.

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