Sunday, October 7, 2012

Do you know how you will vote on Florida's 11 upcoming constitutional amendments before entering the Ballot Box?

On November 6th, you will hopefully step into a ballot box somewhere in Florida to make your voice heard along with your fellow citizens. In addition to deciding on your president, vice president, senator, representative and retention for several members of the Judiciary, this year's ballot will also contain eleven (11) weighty amendments that merit some deliberation beforehand.

Florida has had six (6) different constitutions throughout its history: 1838, Ordinance of Secession in 1861, 1864, 1868, 1885 and our current constitution which was ratified on November 5, 1968. Florida's Constitution is a living document which can be amended five ways although the two most frequently used are: citizen petition or a Joint Resolution of the Legislature passed by 3/5 of each Chamber.

None of the eleven (11) amendments being proposed this year were placed on the ballot as a result of a citizen petition. If you haven't given much thought to who is sponsoring these eleven (11) amendments and why, the Community Advocacy Network (CAN) will be holding a FREE Luncheon and Town Hall Meeting this Friday, October 12th at the Katzman Garfinkel & Berger Law and Learning Center in Margate. Many of the sponsors of these amendments along with spokespersons from groups supporting and opposing same will be attending.

Amendment One is Florida's response to Obamacare inasmuch as it would prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain or otherwise provide healthcare coverage. It is being sponsored by Senator Haridopolos and Representative Plakon. Opponents claim that this amendment, if passed, might very well be moot as the Supreme Court has already upheld the constitutionality of the Federal Health Care Plan.

Amendment Six provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health insurance coverage of abortion. This amendment is being sponsored by Senator Flores and Representative Baxley.

Amendment Eight deletes the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury either directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution. This amendment is sponsored by Senator Altman and Representatives Plakon and Precourt.

Amendment Nine provides for property tax relief for the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service-connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. This amendment is sponsored by Senator Norman and Representative Harrison.

Blog space allows us to only touch on a small sampling of the proposed amendments. However, at the Town Hall, guests will be provided with full summaries of each amendment along with the opportunity to pick the brains of the folks sponsoring, supporting and opposing these changes. There will also be a discussion of upcoming community association legislation and what your legislators think you need and want in that regard.

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