Florida voters approve $15 minimum wage, add protections for veterans’ widows

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TALLAHASSEE — Florida voters have approved four amendments to the state’s constitution, according to the preliminary election totals from the Florida Division of Elections. Amendments to the Florida Constitution require a 60% “super-majority” to pass.

• Amendment #1, which changes one word in state law but does not actually change the law, was approved by 79.3% of voters. Amendment one changes the law to state: “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.” The same law currently 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.” According to the Florida League of Women Voters, current state law already limits voting to citizens and the language change was unnecessary.

• Amendment #2, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, received “yes” votes from 60.8% of voters. The amendment increases the state’s minimum wage to $10 by Sept. 30, 2021, and then by $1 per year until it reaches $15 on Sept. 30, 2026. Since 2005, Florida’s minimum wage has increased from $6.15 to $8.46. The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

• Amendment #5, which extends the window of time a homeowner may transfer homestead protection from one property to another from two years to three years, was approved with 74.49% of votes cast.

• Amendment #6, which extends special property tax exemptions to the widowed spouses of disabled veterans, passed with 89.72% “yes” votes. In 2006, Florida voters approved an amendment that allows disabled veterans age 65 years or older to take a discount on their homestead property tax equal in proportion to the amount of their disability, as determined by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently, this discount is only in effect for the lifetime of the disabled veteran. Amendment 6 provides the additional homestead exemption to the surviving spouses of disabled veterans until the spouse remarries, sells or otherwise disposes of the homestead property.

Voters did not provide sufficient support to pass two amendments:

• Amendment #3, which would have changed the state’s primary system, was approved by 57.01% of voters, failing to meet the 60% requirement. Had Amendment 3 passed, all candidates, regardless of political affiliation, would have been on the same ballot; all voters could have participated in the primary; and, the top two candidates (regardless of political affiliation) would have advanced to the general election. This would have meant two candidates from the same party could have been on the ballot in the general election; now, that can’t happen.

• Amendment #4, which would require future amendments to pass in two elections before becoming law, also failed to meet the 60% requirement with 52.48% approval.

NOTE: Florida election results have not yet been certified by the Division of Elections.

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