A dozen amendments to Florida’s state Constitution will appear on this year’s general election ballot. For your convenience, we have compiled the following brief summaries of each amendment so you can review them before casting your vote in the month ahead.
As a reminder, Election Day is November 6 and early voting will take place from October 27 to November 3 (although some counties will offer extra days starting October 22). If you plan to vote by absentee ballot, those began arriving in the mail last week. If you’re not registered to vote in Florida, tomorrow (October 9) is the final deadline to do so.
Amendment 1: Homestead Property Tax Exemption
- Raises the homestead property tax exemption by $25,000 for homes worth more than $100,000, a change that would exempt the value between $100,000 and $125,000 of an owner’s primary residence.
Amendment 2: Non-Homestead Property Tax Limits
- Permanently limits annual tax assessment increases on non-homestead properties to 10 percent – protecting renters, business owners, and consumers from potential steep increases starting in January.
Amendment 3: Statewide Voter Approval of New Casinos
- Requires a majority of voters statewide to approve the construction of any new casino in Florida.
Amendment 4: Voting Rights Restoration
- Restores voting rights to 1.5 million former felons who served their sentences, including parole and probation, except for those convicted of murder or sexual offenses.
Amendment 5: Legislative Supermajority to Raise Taxes
- Requires a two-thirds vote in the Florida House and Senate – rather than a simple majority – to raise state taxes (does not apply to local taxes); and
- Stops state legislators from adding tax and fee increases onto other bills.
Amendment 6: Victims’ Rights and Judges
- Expands rights for crime victims, including due process, intimidation and abuse protections, ability to request additional rights, and access to sentencing reports;
- Raises the mandatory judicial retirement age from 70 to 75; and
- Requires judges to make their own decisions rather than defer to the interpretation of state agencies.
Amendment 7: First Responders, Higher Education
- Provides mandatory payment of death benefits to qualifying survivors of certain first responders (paramedics, EMTs, U.S. military members residing in Florida) who die performing official duties of their jobs;
- Enshrines in the state Constitution the mandatory payment of death benefits to qualifying survivors of other first responders (law enforcement and corrections officers, firefighters, members of the National Guard), who currently receive these benefits under Florida law;
- Establishes the existing state college system as a constitutional entity; and
- Requires a supermajority vote of university trustees and state university system Board of Governors in order to raise or impose student fees at state universities.
The Florida Supreme Court removed Amendment 8 from the 2018 ballot.
Amendment 9: Clean Water and Clean Air
- Prohibits oil and gas drilling in state-controlled waters immediately adjacent to Florida’s coastline; and
- Bans the indoor use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices in workplaces and public spaces, adding those tobacco products to the state Constitution’s existing non-smoking provisions.
Amendment 10: Governmental Structure
- Changes the dates of Florida’s annual 60-day legislative session in even-numbered years to begin in January rather than March;
- Creates a state Office of Domestic Security & Counterterrorism;
- Requires all Florida counties to elect, rather than appoint, their sheriff, tax collector, elections supervisor, and clerk of courts; and
- Enshrines the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs in the state Constitution.
Amendment 11: Removing Outdated Language
- Deletes language from the state Constitution that allows the Legislature to prevent non-citizens from buying, selling, owning, or inheriting property;
- Deletes constitutional language that approved a high-speed rail project (which was ultimately rejected by Florida voters in 2004); and
- Repeals an 1885 clause in the state Constitution that forbids making changes to criminal sentencing laws apply retroactively.
Amendment 12: Ethics
- Expands the existing lobbying ban on public officials (elected officeholders, judges, government employees) from two to six years after leaving positions in state government.
Amendment 13: Greyhound Racing
- Prohibits commercial greyhound and other dog racing at Florida tracks by 2020.