Three amendments proposed to Florida Constitution

Posted 10/24/22

Those casting votes in the November General Election will consider three proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution.

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Three amendments proposed to Florida Constitution

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Those casting votes in the November General Election will consider three proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution.

All three amendments were placed on the ballot by the Florida Legislature.

Amendments to the Florida Constitution require approval by 60%  of votes cast  in the election.

Amendment 1: Limitation of the assessment of real property used for residential purposes.

Ballot Summary: Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective January 1, 2023, to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit the consideration of any change or improvement made to real property used for residential purposes to improve the property’s resistance to flood damage in determining the assessed value of such property for ad valorem taxation purposes.”

What it means: This amendment would give the Florida Legislature the power to prohibit local city and county governments from considering improvements to prevent flood damages when assessing property value,

Those in favor of this amendment argue that homeowners should not be penalized for taking proactive measures to protect their homes. In 2008, Florida voters approved a similar amendment authorizing the legislature to prohibit local governments from raising property assessments for improvements to prevent wind damage.

Those opposing the amendment argue property tax exemptions place more tax burden on those who do not qualify for the exemptions as local governments raise the millage rates in order to generate sufficient revenue to provide services.

Florida TaxWatch supports this amendment. The League of Women Voters took no position on this amendment.

Amendment 2: Abolishing the Constitutional Revision Commission

Ballot Summary: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets at 20-year intervals and is scheduled to next convene in 2037, as a method of submitting proposed amendments or revisions to the State Constitution to electors of the state for approval. This amendment does not affect the ability to revise or amend the State Constitution through citizen initiative, constitutional convention, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, or legislative joint resolution.”

What it means: The Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) was established in 1968 by an amendment to the Florida Constitution. The Constitutional Revision Commission convenes once every 20 years to review the constitution, hold public hearings across the state, and recommend for voter consideration proposed changes to the constitution. Membership on the CRC consists of the Attorney General of Florida, three members appointed by the Chief Justice of the Florida Supreme Court, nine members appointed by the President of the Florida Senate, nine members appointed by the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and 15 members appointed by the Governor of Florida. This amendment would abolish the CRC.

Supporters argue Florida is the only state that has a CRC that meets every 20 years and such a commission is not needed. If the CRC is abolished there would still be four other ways to amendment the constitution:
• Constitutional convention,
• Joint legislative resolution,
• Citizen petition,
• Tax and Budget Reform Commission.
All of the above require voter approval.
Supporters of the amendment also argue that when the CRC met in 2018, five of the seven ballot measures placed on the ballot bundled multiple issues into one amendment, which was confusing for voters.

Opponents to the amendment argue abolishing the CRC makes it harder for citizens to amend the Florida Constitution.

Florida TaxWatch supports this amendment. The League of Women Voters opposes it.

Amendment 3: Additional Homestead Property Tax Exemption for Specified Critical Public Services Workforce

Ballot Summary: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to grant an additional homestead tax exemption for nonschool levies of up to $50,000 of the assessed value of homestead property owned by classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and Florida National Guard members. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2023.”

What it means; This amendment would provide an extra homestead exemption up to $50,000 on homes owned by classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare services professionals, active duty members of the United States Armed Forces, and Florida National Guard members.

Florida homeowners who qualify for homestead exemption already receive two levels of exemptions. The original homestead exemption exempts the first $25,000 of the home’s appraised value, including taxes levied by the school district. In 2008, Florida voters approved a second $25,000 homestead exemption that exempts the appraised value between $50,000 and $75,000, excluding school taxes.

If this amendment is approved, members of the designated professions would be eligible for a third homestead exemption worth up to $50,000 on homes valued more than 100,000. For example, a home valued at $150,000 would receive the first exemption of $25,000, plus the second exemption of $25,000 on the value between $50,000 and $75,000 plus the third exemption of $50,000 on the value over $100,000. This would mean school taxes would be assessed on a property value of $125,000 and all other city, county and special taxes would be assessed on a property value of $50,000.

According to the League of Women Voters, this amendment will cost local governments $85.9 million in lost revenue for fiscal year 2023-24, growing to $96 million in fiscal year 2026-27. The state would make up for the losses in Florida’s 29 “fiscally constrained” counties.

Supporters argue that Florida has a shortage of critical public service workers and the tax break would encourage more people to pursue and stay in these jobs.

Opponents argue that giving one group of citizens a tax break shifts more of the burden to those who do not qualify for the tax break.

The amendment has the support of Florida TaxWatch. The League of Women Voters opposes the amendment.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce opposes placing issues into Florida’s Constitution that can be solved through the legislative process. “While we recognize that sometimes constitutional amendments are necessary to preserve the integrity of Florida’s political system, they should  – as with the U.S. Constitution  –  be considered only under great and extraordinary occasions,” the chamber’s website states. “While our nation’s constitution only holds 27 amendments, since 1970, Florida’s Constitution has been amended more than 120 times.”

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