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Politics

Backroom Briefing: Amendment Supporters Fear Fatigue

May 17, 2018 - 12:30pm

Anticipated “voter fatigue” is already a concern of backers of a proposed constitutional amendment that would extend a property-tax cap, particularly because approval of the measure will require support from 60 percent of voters.

When they cast ballots in November, Floridians will decide the fate of the 13 proposed constitutional amendments, including the measure, known as Amendment 2, that would extend the tax cap on non-homesteaded properties.

The long list of ballot proposals worries supporters of Amendment 2, though the measure does not have announced opposition.

"We are in a non-presidential election cycle, so there's going to be some voter fatigue and endurance issues, and we want to make sure when they get to Amendment 2 they're going to vote 'yes,' " Patrick Slevin, a spokesman for the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said this week.

The amendment, which also has backing from groups such as Florida Realtors, would extend and make permanent a 10 percent cap on annual increases in assessed values of non-homesteaded properties. Unless an extension is approved in November, the cap otherwise will expire at the end of the year.

Florida TaxWatch said Tuesday that eliminating the cap would raise property taxes by more than $700 million on non-homesteaded properties like businesses, apartments and second homes. Lawmakers used a similar figure when they voted last year to put the measure on the 2018 ballot.

The Legislature also put two other proposals on the November ballot that could limit taxes. One measure, which will appear as Amendment 1, would expand the homestead property-tax exemption. The other, which will appear as Amendment 5, would require two-thirds votes by future legislators to raise taxes.

The ballot also will include two measures that are a result of petition drives. One of the measures, Amendment 3, would allow voters to decide on future expansions of gambling. Another measure, Amendment 4, would restore voting rights for felons who have served their sentences.

The Constitution Revision Commission added eight other amendments, with six of the measures featuring two or more topics.

Amendment 6 focuses on victims’ rights. Amendment 7 includes death benefits for first responders. Amendment 8 involves term limits for school-board members and other educational changes. Amendment 9 combines a proposed ban on offshore oil drilling with a proposed ban on vaping in the workplace. Amendment 10 deals with issues including the start date of legislative sessions in even-numbered years. Amendment 11 involves issues related to property rights and high-speed rail. Amendment 12 would impose a six-year lobbying ban on former state elected officials. And Amendment 13 would ban greyhound racing.

Now imagine reading the longer, more defined version of each of those while in the voting booth.

Kate MacFall, the Humane Society's Florida state director, believes the greyhound-racing ban, which she supports, can avoid problems with voter fatigue.

“We think Amendment 13 is going to stand out and bring a lot of voter support," MacFall said.

However, she understands other issues “about tax policy that could be more confusing” might become buried in the muddle.

Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, said he “generally” doesn’t agree with “log rolling,” putting multiple topics into single amendments, but he understands the need to condense the ballot.

Along with the length of the ballot, a concern for backers of Amendment 2 is that voters commonly will vote “no” if they don’t want things to change. But a “no” vote on Amendment 2 would do away with the tax cap that property owners already enjoy.

THE TRIAL LAWYER AND THE ‘BALD-HEADED EVEREADY BUNNY’

Political rainmaker John Morgan, who largely bankrolled a constitutional amendment in 2016 that broadly legalized medical marijuana, believes incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson faces a tough challenge in the November election from Republican Rick Scott, who’s finishing his last year as governor.

“I think Sen. Nelson is in for a dog fight. I think he’s got to get busy,” Morgan said while holding court Wednesday with reporters in Tallahassee. “You cannot underestimate this Rick Scott. He is a methodical, Eveready bunny; a bald-headed Eveready bunny who just never stops. He’s focused, and he’s got the money. And he’s got the message. And if I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried.”

Morgan, an Orlando trial lawyer also said he supported the decision by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’ Lakes, to stay on the sidelines in the governor’s race. Meanwhile, Morgan still believes he’s would have been the Democratic front-runner if he had decided to run for governor.

Morgan said he spoke Tuesday with Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor who is a contender in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I told him he’s lucky I’m not in ‘cause I would win in a landslide,” Morgan said, adding that he didn’t know which Democrat would capture the nomination.

“All I know is, I’ve never known any governor that’s ever done anything for any of us. Ever. So it’s not a job that I really think I’d be good at every day. I’m better at this,” Morgan said.

PAY FOR NO SESSION

State Rep. Javier Fernandez, D-Miami, and Rep. Josie Tomkow, R-Polk City, most likely will never cast a vote as part of the 2017-2018 Legislature, but both are eligible to pocket more than $15,000 from the taxpayer-funded job.

The two have been on the books since their separate special elections on May 1 --- 51 days after the end of the regular 2018 legislative session --- for the $29,697 a year job, which pays $571 a week.

The results of their elections were certified on Tuesday.

Both seats are again up for election Nov. 6, which is 27 weeks from the time Fernandez and Tomkow were elected.

Fernandez won in Miami-Dade County’s House District 114. Scott called the special election after former Rep. Daisy Baez, D-Coral Gables, resigned after pleading guilty to a perjury charge in an investigation into her residency.

Tomkow, meanwhile, was elected in House District 39, which includes parts of Polk and Osceola counties. Scott called that election after former Rep. Neil Combee, an Auburndale Republican, resigned last year to take a job in the Trump administration.

TWEET OF THE WEEK: “Hi, Supporting our associates, customers and communities is always top of mind for Publix, especially when tragedies strike like natural disasters and gun violence. When we are deciding which political candidates to financially support during an election, we consider a number of factors. Publix has not provided financial support to the National Rifle Association.” --- Publix Super Markets (@Publix), responding to customers after the TampaBay Times reported on the grocer’s donations to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for governor and is an outspoken gun-rights supporter.

 


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Comments

No issues on the Amendments should have ever been combined. What possibly does vaping have to do with offshore drilling? It's a shill game. Something good and covering something dodgy. I don't support any of them, especially since most don't belong in the Constitution. Vote NO on the combined ones, vote your conscience on the others. I support A4. Whenever any citizens rights are infringed we are all diminished. Whenever government is allowed to create exceptions you may be the next exception.

I thought Publix was a grocery store not a platform for political commentary. Boy, are they on the wrong side on this issue. Winn Dixie is a little further away but I will be shopping there more often than before Publix let every one know they don't care about their customers safety.

Shame on Publix! I will not be shopping there anymore!

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