Fla. Constitutional Amendments: What to Know Before You Vote
Floridians are starting to vote, and decisions must be made on six proposed changes to the state constitution. Here are the pros, cons and background information.
TAMPA, Fla. – Absentee ballots are starting to be distributed to Floridians. And on those ballots – along with several federal, state and local offices – are six amendments to the state constitution.
Legislative jargon can be cumbersome, so before you cast your vote – just as we have in previous elections – 8 On Your Side is breaking down the six constitutional amendments in Florida, letting you know who supports or opposes them and what they mean for you.
Each amendment needs 60% of the vote to pass. Here’s a look at the constitutional amendments up for a vote this election cycle:
Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections
What it says: “This amendment provides that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen 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.”
What a YES vote means: You support changing the text of Florida’s Constitution from “every citizen” to “only a citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”
What a NO vote means: You support the current text of the constitution, which states “Every citizen of the United States who is at least eighteen years of age and who is a permanent resident of the state, if registered as provided by law, shall be an elector of the county where registered.”
Arguments against: No clear opposition to the amendment has emerged, likely because it has no legal impact on the voting process in Florida since noncitizen voting is illegal in Florida.
Arguments for: Anonymous donors fund a group called Florida Citizen Voters, who got the amendment on this year’s ballot. According to the group’s chairman, John Loudon, the group believes the amendment is necessary to ensure noncitizens can’t participate in elections.
Amendment 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage
What it says: “Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.”
What a YES vote means: You support the amendment to the state’s constitution that would increase Florida’s minimum wage in increments until September 2026 when it would reach $15, or a full-time annual salary of around $31,200.
What a NO vote means: You believe Florida’s minimum wage of $8.56 per hour, which would be a full-time annual salary of $17,120, should remain unchanged.
Arguments against: According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the new minimum wage could lead to job losses and fewer hours for employees.
Arguments for: Well-known Florida Attorney John Morgan helped fund the Florida For a Fair Wage initiative, which argues the rising cost of living in Florida is more than those making the current minimum wage can handle. They argue that the increased minimum wage would give the working-class more disposable income to spend, boosting the state’s economy.
Amendment 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet
What it says: “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 general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and winner is determined in general election. Candidate’s party affiliation may appear on ballot as provided by law. Effective January 1, 2024.”
What a YES vote means: You support changing the Florida Constitution to allow an open primary in elections for state legislators, governor and cabinet officials.
What a NO vote means: You do not support the change and want the state to continue with its current closed system, which only allows registered voters to vote within their own party during a primary to decide who will represent them in a general election.
Arguments against: Both Democrats and Republicans in the Florida Legislature oppose this amendment saying that an open primary could have two top candidates from the same party, leaving one party without representation.
Arguments for: A South Florida businessman who was the finance chairman for former governor Rick Scott largely funded the initiative called All Voters Vote. Some independent voters believe this would also give them a chance to participate in the state’s primary elections.
Amendment 4: Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments
What it says: “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.”
What a YES vote means: You support changing the voting process to Florida’s constitutional amendments to be approved by 60% twice.
What a NO vote means: You’re fine with the current amendment process, which only requires an amendment to garner a 60% vote once.
Arguments against: The League of Women Voters of Florida says this amendment would end citizen-led constitutional amendments, adding another layer of cost and participation to the process.
Arguments for: A group called Keep Our Constitution Clean, funded by a nonprofit connected to Florida Power & Light, ran a petition stating that the process to amend the constitution should have an additional layer to the process.
Amendment 5: Limitation on Homestead Assessments
What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective date January 1, 2021, to increase, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.”
What a YES vote means: You support extending the two-year deadline for residents to transfer their “Save Our Home” benefits, which range from $25,000 to $50,000 in homestead exemptions, to three years.
What a NO vote means: You support the current two-year deadline for transferring the “Save Our Home” benefits and do not believe it should be extended.
Arguments against: According to the League of Women Voters, putting this legislation in the Florida Constitution limits local governments’ ability to manage their budgets, which are funded mostly by property taxes, to best respond to the needs of their communities.
Arguments for: Florida lawmakers believe the amendment would help give homeowners ample time to transfer benefits in the event of a sale late in the year.
Amendment 6: Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities
What it says: “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 January 1, 2021.”
What a YES vote means: You support a change to the state’s constitution that would allow spouses of disabled or deceased veterans to receive a Homestead Property Tax discount.
What a NO vote means: You don’t support the amendment and don’t believe property tax discounts should be transferred to the spouse of a disabled or deceased veteran.
Arguments against: The League of Women Voters believes the amendment would take away tax revenue that supports law enforcement, schools and infrastructure.
Arguments for: Florida lawmakers unanimously approved putting this amendment on the ballot in an effort to help the spouses of veterans.
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