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Florida's Constitutional Amendments - November Ballot

Florida is somewhat unique among the 50 states and 7 territorial possessions in that the legal system is grounded in Roman Law, as filtered through Spanish Law - whereas the other states/territories' statutes and procedures are descended from British Common Law.

One of the important effects of this difference is that Florida citizens directly - by a super majority vote - amend the Florida Constitution. In other states the elected legislators have that duty and responsibility.

There will be 11 Amendments on the Florida ballot in November (they've passed constitutional muster after being written and proposed by a majority of the Republican Legislators who control the Florida House and Senate) and as the election nears I'm sure there will be contentious debate over the merits of each.

Amendment 1: Prohibits laws from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain or otherwise provide for health-care coverage.

Amendment 2: Expands homestead exemption for combat-disabled veterans to those who were not Florida residents when they entered the military.

Amendment 3: Replaces the existing state-revenue limitation based on personal-income growth with a new one based on inflation and population changes.

Amendment 4: Multiple property-tax changes include a temporary 50 percent homestead exemption for new homeowners and a 5 percent cap on annual assessment increases of nonhomestead property.

Amendment 5: Allows the Legislature to repeal court rules by a majority vote rather than the two-thirds vote now required.

Amendment 6: Prohibits public funds from paying for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes abortion coverage. Provides that the state constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the U.S. Constitution.

Amendment 8: Provides that no individual or entity may be denied government funding or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief, except as required by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and deletes the prohibition against using public funds to aid any church, sect or religious denomination or sectarian institution.

Amendment 9: Provides homestead-property-tax relief to the surviving spouses of military veterans and first responders who died in the line of duty.

Amendment 10: Provides an exemption from ad-valorem taxes levied by counties, municipalities, school districts and other local governments on tangible personal property worth more than $25,000 but less than $50,000.

Amendment 11: Allows counties and cities to grant a homestead exemption equal to the assessed value of a home if the property is valued at less than $250,000 and the owner has lived there for at least 25 years, is at least 65 and has a low income as defined by general law.

Amendment 12: Replaces the president of the Florida Student Association with the chair of the council of state-university student-body presidents as the student member of the State University System's Board of Governors.

Each Amendment requires a 60% super majority to become part of the Florida Constitution.

From my perspective many of the GOP Amendments don't have a chance of passing, and have been placed on the ballot to trigger emotional responses and get GOP voters - who otherwise might have stayed home - to the polls and vote against Obama.

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