The issue: Six Amendments to Florida’s Constitution.
Our opinion: Only Amendments 5 and 6 deserve yes votes.
Editor's note: The Chronicle Editorial Board issues endorsements of local candidates. Endorsement decisions are based on multiple interviews conducted with each candidate by the board and staff. Candidates not endorsed by the editorial board of the Chronicle are encouraged to submit a rebuttal to email@example.com no later than Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. All rebuttals submitted prior to the deadline are guaranteed to publish no later than Monday, Nov. 2, 2020, the day before Election Day.
One of the things voters most often ask for guidance on is how to vote on the amendments to Florida’s Constitution.
The Chronicle Editorial Board offers the following guidance on voting for the six amendments on your Nov. 3 General Election ballot this year.
The Chronicle is recommending voters reject Amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4 and to vote yes on Amendments 5 and 6.
Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections
Ballot summary: This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least 18 years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.
Chronicle: This amendment seeks to replace the phrase “every citizen of the United States” with “only a citizen of the United States” in Article VI, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution. For the rest of the language, there are already provisions in the state constitution on who is qualified to vote and non U.S. citizens are already not allowed to vote. This amendment is unnecessary.
Amendment 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage Ballot
Ballot summary: Raises minimum wage to $10 per hour effective Sept. 30, 2021. Each Sept. 30 thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour on Sept. 30, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting Sept. 30, 2027.
Chronicle: Supporters of this amendment want to give all Floridians a living wage. A likely popular concept on the surface, but when we dig deeper this amendment is not sound. The amendment calls for an extraordinary increase in wages over a short period of time. On the heels of the pandemic, this amendment could cripple the businesses that do survive 2020. If passed, businesses will be forced to lay some employees off to meet the higher payroll demands and costs will be passed along to consumers. Additionally, they will be more likely to seek less costly automation avenues, costing more jobs. We agree the wealth divide has gotten out of hand, but artificially raising the minimum wage is not the answer.
Amendment 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet
Ballot summary: Allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to the general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and the winner is determined in the general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on the ballot as provided by law. Effective Jan. 1, 2024.
Chronicle: This amendment seeks to improve the voting process and give disenfranchised voters a say. For example, If only one party puts forth a candidate for an office in the primary everyone, regardless of party affiliation should be able to vote in that race. However, some savvy political operatives block the opposing party by placing an NPA candidate on the ballot. This amendment does not fix that glitch. In fact, the way it is written, it could force one party out of advancing a candidate into the General Election.
Amendment 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
Ballot summary: Requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.
Chronicle: This amendment throws up a roadblock to citizen initiatives. While we do not always support the citizen initiatives (we are recommending voters to reject all four citizen initiatives this election cycle) we fiercely defend their right to attempt to make changes to the constitution. As Florida’s legislators move further away from the will of the people it is important that we protect the citizens' right to counteract their mistakes.
Amendment 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments
Ballot summary: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective date Jan. 1, 2021, to increase, from two years to three years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.
Chronicle: The Chronicle supports increasing the time a homeowner has to transfer their tax benefits from a previous homestead to a new homestead. The benefits would be anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 in tax exemptions for a homeowner.
Amendment 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities
Ballot summary: Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran's surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.
Chronicle: The sacrifices made by veterans with combat-related disabilities are also shared by their families. The surviving spouses deserve this property tax discount.