by Phil Dodderidge, Vice-Chair Florida Keys Democrats

Six statewide ballot measures were certified for the ballot in Florida in 2020.

HIGHLIGHTS

 Four citizen initiatives are on the ballot. Amendment 1 would state that only citizens can vote in Florida; Amendment 2 would raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2026; Amendment 3 would establish top-two open primaries; and Amendment 4 would require constitutional amendments to be passed twice.

 The Florida Legislature referred two constitutional amendments concerning property taxes to the ballot.

Amendments 1,5, and 6 are non-controversial. Amendment 2 gradually raises the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour by September 2026 with increases tied to the CPI thereafter.  This amendment is supported by the Florida Democratic Party and other pro-worker organizations. It is opposed by business organizations like the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Amendment 3 establishes a “Jungle Primary” system for Florida State elections. It is opposed by both parties, the FL Chamber of Commerce, and black legislators of both parties: Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson. “If you’re for Amendment 3, you’re not for the minority community. Period.”

Amendment 4 changes the process to get constitutional amendments passed from a single ballot initiative to 2 sequential ones. It is opposed by every Democratic Leaning organization in the state and supported by shadow GOP organizations.

Florida 2020 Amendments Summary Table
Monroe DEC Position Title Subject Description
NO

 

Amendment 1 Suffrage Amends the state Constitution to state that only U.S. citizens who are 18 years old or older can vote in federal, state, local, or school elections (already the law)
YES Amendment 2 Minimum wage Increases the state minimum wage to $15 by 2026
NO Amendment 3 Elections Establishes a top-two open primary system (i.e., jungle primary) for state office primary elections
NO Amendment 4 Direct democracy Requires voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election
NO Amendment 5 Taxes Increases the period during which a person may transfer “Save Our Homes” benefits to a new homestead property from two years to three years
NO Amendment 6 Taxes Allows a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran

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Florida Amendment 1, the Citizen Requirement for Voting Initiative, is on the ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

“yes” vote supports amending the Florida Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florida.

 

“no” vote opposes amending the Florida Constitution, thus keeping the existing language that says “every citizen” of the U.S. who is 18 years old or older can vote in Florid

Amendment 1 would amend Section 2 of Article VI of the Florida Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States who are 18 years old or older are qualified electors in Florida.[1]

  • The Florida Constitution currently says, “Every citizenof 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.”
  • Under the ballot measure, the Florida Constitution would say, “Only a citizenof 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.”

Polling Support 80%

Monroe DEC position – Vote NO

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Florida Amendment 2, the $15 Minimum Wage Initiative, is on the ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

“yes” vote supports the initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage incrementally until reaching $15 per hour in September 2026.

 

“no” vote opposes the initiative to increase the state’s minimum wage incrementally until reaching $15 in September 2026, thereby keeping the current minimum wage of $8.46 per hour.

Amendment 2 would increase the state minimum wage from $8.56 in 2020 to $15.00 in 2026. Under Amendment 2, the state minimum wage would increase each year as follows:[1]

  • $10.00 on September 30, 2021; $11.00 on September 30, 2022; $12.00 on September 30, 2023; $13.00 on September 30, 2024; $14.00 on September 30, 2025; and $15.00 on September 30, 2026. Beginning on September 30, 2027, there would be an annual adjustment to the state minimum wage based on increases to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

Argument For

Florida For a Fair Wage: “Florida needs to pass the Fair Wage Amendment to ensure that all hard-working Floridians can receive a living wage. The ‘living wage’ is the minimum cost that covers the basic needs of an individual and the needs of their family without government assistance. Florida’s minimum wage of $8.46 – or $17,600 per year – for a full-time employee is not a livable wage for many of the 200,000 hard-working Floridians that earn it, especially those working to support a family.”

Argument Against

 Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association: “The proposed ballot initiative to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour has a lot of feel-good appeal, but behind all the warm and fuzzies lie a plethora of unintended consequences. An increase like this would have disastrous impacts on businesses and individuals alike. Business owners will be forced to find solutions to control costs, and these solutions will have a direct impact on our state’s 1.4 million hospitality workers. The most obvious solutions include reducing the number of employees, reducing the number of hours remaining employees work and seeking labor alternatives like automation.”

Monroe DEC position – Vote Yes

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Florida Amendment 3, the Top-Two Open Primaries for State Offices Initiative is on the ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

“yes” vote supports establishing a top-two open primary system for primary elections for state legislators, the governor, and cabinet (attorney general, chief financial officer, and commissioner of agriculture) in Florida.

 

“no” vote opposes establishing a top-two open primary system for primary elections, thereby leaving in place Florida’s current system where closed primaries are held by each party.

Amendment 3 would change Florida’s primary elections for state legislators, the governor and lieutenant governor, and elected cabinet members (Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Chief Financial Officer) from a closed election to a top-two open primary.[2]

Currently, in Florida, primaries are closed, meaning a voter must be registered with a political party in order to participate in that party’s primary election. Winners of a partisan primary election advance to the general election.

Amendment 3 would replace closed primaries with top-two primaries in which all candidates would be placed on one ballot regardless of political affiliation and the top two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election. A candidate’s party affiliation may appear on the ballot as provided by law. The primaries would also be open, meaning any registered voter, regardless of their political affiliation, could vote in the primary election.

Under Amendment 3, in cases where only two candidates qualify for the primary election, the primary would be canceled, and the election winner would be decided in the general election. If approved by 60% of voters at the 2020 general election, the top-two open primary system would be used beginning in 2024.

Argument For

“For the first time in decades, the voters of Florida will have the chance to decide for themselves whether to let all voters vote. Not surprisingly, the Democrat and Republican Parties don’t want them to have that choice. Leadership of both parties has attacked the campaign and filed court papers to sabotage it, declaring that it ‘confuses voters,’ and ‘takes away voter choice.’ Make no mistake, they are united against letting the voters decide.”

Argument Against

People Over Profits: “An unforeseen outcome of this proposal is the loss of minority representation in both legislative chambers. … Under Amendment 3, both electoral access and representation of people of color would be all but erased. … [t]he inclusion of Republican and independent voters in a Black majority district would allow white Democratic candidates the opportunity to defeat a Black Democrat in the context of a larger general election electorate. … The amendment would all but eliminate third parties from competing in the November general election.”

Monroe DEC position – Vote No

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Florida Amendment 4, the Require Constitutional Amendments to be Passed Twice Initiative, is on the ballot in Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

“yes” vote supports requiring voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election to become effective.

 

“no” vote opposes requiring voter-approved constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at a second general election to become effective.

Amendment 4 would require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at two successive general elections to become effective. Currently in Florida, if voters approve an amendment at one general election, it becomes part of the constitution.

In Florida, constitutional amendments require a 60% supermajority vote to become effective. This requirement was added to the constitution in 2006. Under Amendment 4, the supermajority requirement would apply to both elections.

Argument For

Keep Our Constitution Clean PC: “By doing pass-it-twice, we think we can reduce the amount of … whimsical constitutional amendments. [In Florida], there have been more than 140 constitutional amendments [since the 1960s]. The United States Constitution, which has been around since the 1700s, has been amended 27 times.

Argument Against

The Florida Democratic Party urges the voters of Florida to protect the power they have to overrule career politicians and big-money special interests and to VOTE AGAINST AMENDMENT 4 (Voter Approval of Constitutional Amendments).

Monroe DEC position – Vote No

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Florida Amendment 5, the Florida Extend “Save Our Homes” Portability Period Amendment, is on the ballot in Florida as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

A “yes” vote supports extending the period during which a person may transfer Save Our Homes benefits to a new homestead property from two years to three years.

 

A “no” vote opposes extending the period during which a person may transfer Save Our Homes benefits to a new homestead property from two years to three years.

Homesteads, or primary residences, are subject to property taxes in Florida, which must be assessed at just value, except that every primary residence is eligible for a $25,000 homestead exemption. Another $25,000 homestead exemption is applied to homesteads that have an assessed value of more than $50,000 up to $75,000. The homestead exemption reduces the taxable value of a property.

Amendment 10 of 1992, a citizen initiative known as the “Save Our Homes Amendment”, limited homestead property valuation increases for homes receiving a homestead exemption to a maximum of 3% annually. Voters approved the measure in a vote of 54% to 46%. The difference between the just value and the assessed value is referred to as the Save Our Homes (SOH) benefit.

Argument For

Tampa Bay Times Editorial Board: “People who sell their houses covered by a homestead exemption have two years to move into a new house and carry that tax break along with them. Except they really don’t. … To transfer the Save Our Homes exemption, Florida law says a homeowner must have “received a homestead exemption as of Jan. 1 of either of the two immediately preceding years.” So someone could easily miss out by selling a home late in the year and then building a new home that isn’t finished by New Year’s of the year after next — in other words, after only a year and a few days had passed. … This simple change means that the Constitution would reflect what voters intended, that homeowners could take their exemption with them for two full years or more — and not lose it in the space of a year and a few days. Lawmakers should put this sensible change on the ballot, and voters should approve the amendment in November.”

This amendment was passed unanimously in the Fl House and Senate to be put on the ballot, March 2020

Argument Against

Monroe DEC position – Vote no.  Specific taxes have no place in the State Constitution. The appropriate place for this to happen is laws passed by legislation.

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Florida Amendment 6, the Homestead Property Tax Discount for Spouses of Deceased Veterans Amendment, is on the ballot in Florida as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020.

A “yes” vote supports allowing a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.

 

A “no” vote opposes allowing a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.

This amendment would allow a homestead property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran. The discount would be in effect until the spouse remarries, sells, or otherwise disposes of the property. If the spouse sells the property and does not remarry, the spouse’s new primary residence may receive a homestead tax discount not exceeding the dollar amount from the most recent ad valorem tax roll. The amendment would take effect January 1, 2021.[1]

Currently, the homestead property tax discount for veterans expires upon their death and is not extended to their spouses.

Argument For

The measure was passed unanimously in both chambers of the Florida State Legislature, March 2020.

Argument Against

Monroe DEC position – Vote no.  Specific taxes have no place in the State Constitution. The appropriate place for this to happen is laws passed by legislation.