Proposed constitutional amendments

The ballot at the Nov. 5 general election consists of numerous local, regional and state candidates, as well as 10 proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution.

Amendment No. 1 Excessive Punishments Proposed by the Florida Legislature Will determine if Florida keeps or rejects the death penalty. Passage of this amendment would make Florida the first state to incorporate the death penalty into its constitution, where it would have better protection against change by the State Supreme Court. The proposed amendment would be applied retroactively.

Amendment No. 2 Economic Impact Statements for Proposed Constitutional Amendments or Revisions Proposed by the Florida Legislature

Proposed by the Florida Legislature Would require the Legislature to provide an economic impact statement to the public prior to them voting on an amendment proposed by initiative. This amendment allows voters to weigh the value of a proposed program, not only in dollars, but also in terms of other fund decreasing program options.

Amendment No. 3 Authorizing Amendments to Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter by Special Law Approved by Referendum Proposed by the Florida Legislature Would authorize the Florida Legislature to place amendments to the Miami-Dade charter on the Miami-Dade ballot for voter approval. If passed, the amendment gives the citizens of Miami-Dade another option to place proposed charter amendments on the ballots by going to their legislative delegation.

Amendment No. 4 Laws Providing Public Records or Meetings Exemptions; Two-Thirds Vote Required

Proposed by the Florida Legislature Would strengthen and protect the Florida Sunshine Laws. The Florida Sunshine Laws allow citizens to observe actions of their government and insures them access to government records. Exemptions must be specific; generally dealing with privacy of Social Security numbers or public health records and patent and trade secrets owned by the government.

Amendment No. 5**omitted from the Nov. 5 ballot.**

Amendment No. 6 Protect People from the Health Hazards of Second-Hand Smoke by Prohibiting Workplace Smoking

Proposed by Smoke Free For Health Passage of this amendment will prohibit smoking in any enclosed workplace, including child day-care facilities, restaurants and healthcare amenities. The American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, NAACP and other organizations feel passing this amendment will save lives and money on healthcare cost. Some restaurant owners are concerned they will lose revenue.

Amendment No. 7 Exemption for Construction of Living Quarters for Parents or Grandparents

Proposed by the Florida Legislature This amendment authorizes the Legislature to pass a law that allows counties to provide a reduction in the cost of construction to any homestead where there has been reconstruction of the property in order to provide living quarters for parents or grandparents of the owner, if the parent or grandparent is age 62 or older. This amendment will allow counties to adopt this exemption which will give the needed flexibility to the assessment process to better deal with local concerns.

Amendment No. 8 Voluntary Universal Pre-Kindergarten Education Proposed by Parents for Readiness Education for Our Kids It proposes that every 4-year-old child in Florida be offered a high quality pre-kindergarten learning opportunity. If passed, children will benefit from early exposure to education.

Amendment No. 9 Florida’s Amendment to Reduce Class Size

Proposed by Coalition to Reduce Class Size The amendment mandates schools must limit the number of students in a classroom to 18 in kindergarten through third grade, 22 in fourth through eighth grades and 25 in high school. Reductions in class size would begin in fiscal year 2003-2004. Smaller classes help students by decreasing distractions and allowing teachers to provide more one-on-one attention. Opponents believe reducing the class size will create more problems, such as, recruiting qualified teachers and raising taxes to compensate the change.

Amendment No. 10 Animal Cruelty Amendment: Limiting Cruel and Inhumane Confinement of Pigs During Pregnancy Proposed by Floridians for Humane Farms This amendment would outlaw gestation crates, used to confine pigs during pregnancy, that are so small the pig is unable to turn around for months. This ballot is the first proposal in the country aimed at improving the lot of farm animals.

Amendment No. 11 Local Trustees and Statewide Governing Board to Manage Florida’s University System

Proposed by Education Excellence for Florida The amendment calls for a statewide governing board of 17 members to be responsible for the coordinated and accountable operation of the university system. A local board of trustees will administer each state university; each board will consist of 13 members. The amendment specifies that wasteful duplication of facilities and programs will be avoided.

– compiled by Tanya Freeney

Source: League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund