Florida Voting Primer from Howard Troxler

Check out the nine amendments on the ballot this year.  Troxler does a summary of what to expect in the voting booth in November.

Most voters get lost in the swamp of state politics and throw their hands up, only voting for national candidates.  Its so much easier to follow, understand and decide on national issues.  Still, most decisions are made in states first.

Jeffersonian Democracy still rules in the land of Mason and Dixon (you know, the South) – also, Mason and Dixon themselves were not from the South, nor does their line actually represent the South, I know its a misnomer, don’t correct me.

I’ll warrant a lawsuit by re-posting his suggestions:

Amendment 1 repeals Florida’s system of public financing for statewide elections, created in the 1980s and put in the Constitution by the voters in 1998. Candidates for governor and the state Cabinet got $11.1 million in the last statewide cycle in 2006.

The original, reformist idea was to level the playing field against big money. But leaders of the Legislature call it “welfare for politicians.” They have made it tougher to get the money in recent years, and now hope the voters will kill it altogether.

Amendment 2 gives an increased homestead tax exemption (meaning, they have to possess one already) to members of the military and reserves deployed outside the United States. The additional tax break would be based on the number of days of the year they were out of the country.

Amendment 3 contains two more tax ideas. It says that the tax appraisal on a nonhomestead property can’t go up by more than 5 percent a year (it’s 10 percent now).

It also creates a property-tax exemption for first-time home buyers of up to 25 percent of a home’s value in the first year, which is then phased out over the next few years.

Amendment 4 is better known as “Hometown Democracy” and might be the fight of the year. Placed on the ballot by petition, it says voters should have final say over amendments to city and county “comprehensive plans,” which control growth.

Amendments 5 and 6 also were put on the ballot by citizen petition. Their stated goal is “fair districts” for the Legislature and Congress, saying that districts should not be drawn by the Legislature to “favor or disfavor” one party or incumbent. Opponents say (among other things) that this is impossible to achieve and will automatically throw redistricting into the courts.

Amendment 7 is the Legislature’s reply to Amendments 5 and 6. The claim is that it meant only to “clarify” the previous two amendments. Critics say it really wipes them out, because it declares that its own wording shall not be “subordinate” to any other part of the Constitution. A lawsuit has been filed seeking to throw Amendment 7 off the ballot as deceptive.

Amendment 8 is the Legislature’s attempt to change the rules for public school class sizes in Florida that were approved by voters in 2002. The amendment would return to using schoolwide average class sizes instead of a strict per-classroom limit.

Amendment 9 is the Republican Legislature’s answer to the health care bill passed by the Democratic Congress. The reason I called it a “futile gesture” is that it says that Floridians cannot be required to take part in “any health care system.” But federal law remains the boss.

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