Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


New Florida Amendments Have Voters Puzzled

With six amendments on the ballot written in awkward, difficultly worded language, you might as well vote in another language.

Here’s a look at the amendments and what they mean to you.

Amendment 1: Declaration of Rights

“Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to delete provisions authorizing the Legislature to regulate or prohibit the ownership, inheritance, disposition, and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship.”

This amendment will rid the Florida constitution of an old law that prohibits ineligible Asian immigrants from owning land. It’s basically an amendment that will clean up laws that are no longer enforced from the constitution. Florida is the only state that still has an anti-Asian law after New Mexico, Wyoming and Kansas got rid of theirs in recent years.

Voting “yes” means: Removing the anti-immigrant law, which isn’t even enforced anymore, from the Florida Constitution.

Amendment 2: Gay Marriage

“This amendment protects marriage as the legal union of only one man and one woman as husband and wife and provides that no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized. The direct financial impact this amendment will have on state and local government revenues and expenditures cannot be determined, but is expected to be minor.”

Amendment 2 will ban same-sex marriages in Florida. Although they are currently illegal in Florida, this amendment will put legislation into Florida’s constitution defining marriage as only between one man and one woman, recognized as husband and wife. Florida isn’t the only state with a marriage law on the ballot: California and Arizona also have laws pending, though the wordings are different. (See page 8 for more.)

Voting “yes” means: Legislation will be added to the Florida constitution permanently banning civil unions and domestic partnerships in more than 18 communities across the state.

Amendment 3: Renewable Energy

“Authorizes the Legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of changes or improvements to residential real property which increase resistance to wind damage and installation of renewable energy source devices as factors in assessing the property’s value for ad valorem taxation purposes. Effective upon adoption, repeals the existing renewable energy source device exemption no longer in effect.”

This amendment will stop a property tax increase on improvements to homes that involve installing renewable energy devices. The work would be exempt from the home’s assessed value. Experts say that installations of these improvements have increased even without the tax incentive, yet some citizens aren’t even aware of the tax breaks.

Voting “yes” means: These tax breaks are too small to make a major impact, but lobbyists say it is a step in the right direction to help homeowners trying to better the environment.

Amendment 4: Property Tax

“Requires Legislature to provide a property tax exemption for real property encumbered by perpetual conservation easements or other perpetual conservation protections, defined by general law. Requires Legislature to provide for classification and assessment of land used for conservation purposes and not perpetually encumbered, solely on the basis of character use. Subjects assessment benefit to conditions, limitations, and reasonable definitions established by general law. Applies to property taxes beginning in 2010.”

This amendment favors landowners who preserve their property in its natural state, and would provide further tax benefits for them. Legislators would have to decide whether property must be undeveloped enough to meet the criteria for conservation classification.

Voting “yes” means: Florida’s undeveloped land is slowly diminishing, so this is worth the change on the Constitution to save the environment.

Amendment 6: Waterfront Property

“Provides for assessment based upon use of land used predominantly for commercial fishing purposes; land used for vessel launches into waters that are navigable and accessible to the public; marinas and drystacks that are open to the public; and water-dependent marine manufacturing facilities, commercial fishing facilities, and marine vessel construction and repair facilities and their support activities, subject to conditions, limitations, and reasonable definitions specified by general law.”

Amendment 6 aims to help Florida’s multibillion-dollar maritime industry by changing the way these businesses are taxed – based on their use rather than the property’s potential.

Voting “yes” means: It’s an attempt to keep long-standing businesses like marinas and commercial fishing facilities from being forced to leave because of high taxes.

Amendment 8: Community College Funding

“Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require that the Legislature authorize counties levy a local option sales tax to supplement community college funding; requiring voter approval to levy the tax; providing that approved taxes will sunset after 5 years and may be reauthorized by the voters.”

This amendment will allow communities to increase the local sales tax to fund community colleges. This new law isn’t a tax increase in itself, but it authorizes counties to increase funding to community colleges. According to the Department of Labor, more than two-thirds of all new jobs require post-secondary education, and as Florida’s universities become more selective and with the economy the way it is, many are turning to community colleges.

Voting “yes” means: Reappropriating monies to support the growth of community colleges.

Wait, there are more than two candidates?

The 13 presidential and vice presidential tickets you will see on the ballot:

? John McCain, Sarah Palin

? Barack Obama, Joe Biden

? Gloria La Riva, Eugene Puryear

? Chuck Baldwin, Darrell Castle

? Gene Amondson, Leroy Pletten

? Bob Barr, Wayne A. Root

? Thomas Robert Stevens, Alden Link

? James Harris, Alyson Kennedy

? Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente

? Alan Keyes, Brian Rohrbough

? Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez

? Brian Moore, Stewart Alexander

? Charles Jay, John Wayne Smith

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