Florida Amendments 2008 – Voter’s Guide

In the general election on November 4th (or earlier if you’re voting early), there are 6 proposed amendments (numbers 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 ) to the Florida Constitution. Here are some quick facts for you:

Each amendment proposed affects some language in the Constitution of the State of Florida. You will be voting “yes” to approve the proposed amendment or “no” to disapprove.

Proposed Amendment 1

This amendment would change existing language in the Constitution from Article I, Section 2.

On your ballot:

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.

What it means

  • Vote “yes” if you want the Legislature to no longer be authorized to affect the ability of aliens (foreigners) who cannot obtain citizenship in the US to own or deal in real estate.
  • Vote “no” if you want the Florida Legislature to continue to have the authority to regulate this activity.

Proposed Amendment 2 – Florida Marriage Protection Amendment

This amendment would add a new section to the Constitution.

On your ballot:

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.

What it means

  • Vote “yes” if you want the traditional definition of marriage as “one man and one woman” to be the working definition of the term in the State of Florida
  • Vote “no” if you do not want to keep the traditional definition of word “marriage”

For more information, read our position on Florida Amendment 2

Proposed Amendment 3

This amendment would change existing language in the Constitution in Article VII, Sections 3 and 4 and would add a new section in Article XI.

On your ballot:

Changes and Improvements Not Affecting the Assessed Value of Residential Real Property

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.

What it means

  • Vote “yes” if you want to allow the Florida Legislature to have the authority to prevent upgrades to homes in Florida that are installed specifically for the purpose of A) protecting it from wind damage (hurricanes and tornadoes) or B) adding alternative energy (such as solar) from changing the value of the home for the purpose of property tax assessments. In short: if you spend money to protect your house, you won’t be penalized with property taxes (assuming the Legislature actually uses this new-found authority and passes a law to prohibit you from being taxed on this kind of thing).
  • Vote “no” if you do not want the Legislature to have the power to prevent you from being taxed on these upgrades.

Proposed Amendment 4

This amendment would change existing language in the Constitution in Article VII, Sections 3 & 4  and in Article XII, Section 28

On your ballot:

Property Tax Exemption of Perpetually Conserved Land; Classification and Assessment of Land Used for Conservation

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 or use. Subjects assessment benefit to conditions, limitations, and reasonable definitions established by general law. Applies to property taxes beginning in 2010.

What it means

  • Vote “yes” if you want land owned by taxpayers in Florida which cannot be developed because of conservation easements (e.g. the land has been declared a natural wildlife habitat) or because the owners have chosen to use the land for the purposes of conservation (e.g. there isn’t a conservation easement, but the property is being used like there is one) from being taxed like other land.
  • Vote “no” if you do not want to provide this tax exemption.

Proposed Amendment 6

This amendment would change existing language in the Constitution in Article VII, Section 4 and would add a new section in Article XII.

On your ballot:

Assessment of Working Waterfront Property Based Upon Current Use

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.

What it means

  • Vote “yes” if you want waterfront land used for the purposes listed above to have its property tax assessments reflect its usage. In other words, it’s one thing to operate a marina or a boat launch on your waterfront property. It’s another thing to build luxury condos there. This amendment would allow for the property taxes assessed to account for this type of distinction.
  • Vote “no” if you do not want to provide this distinction for assessed property taxes.

Proposed Amendment 8

This amendment would change existing language in the Constitution in Article VII, Section 9.

On your ballot:

Local Option Community College Funding

Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to require that the Legislature authorize counties to 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.

What it means

  • Vote “yes” if you the Legislature to allow counties to use a sales tax hike to raise money for community colleges. The counties would have to allow citizens to vote and approve the sales tax increase, which would automatically expire in 5 years unless a new vote authorizes it to be renewed (in 5-year increments).
  • Vote “no” if you do not want the Legislature to allow counties to levy sales tax increases for this purpose.

Was This Useful?

I hope it was helpful for you to have a preview of what’s on your ballot and some simple explanations of what these amendments are all about. If so, please leave a comment!

23 Replies to “Florida Amendments 2008 – Voter’s Guide”

  1. This was very useful for the average mother like me, that cares about what’s going on but was not too clear on the exact definitions of these amendments.
    Thank you.

  2. David G. Johnson
    David G. Johnson says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Lydia… I’m glad this was helpful.

  3. Jill says:

    Thanks for the clarifications… I am heading out to vote right now!!

  4. Sheri says:

    Thank you for your synopsis. I truly appreciate your efforts and input. Found your site very helpful.Voting this morning.

  5. tony says:

    This was very useful!! I want to help make my vote count but I am not always clear on what some of the proposals mean. Thanks for the great resource!


  6. Misty N says:

    Thank you so much for making the confusing jargon of the ballot easier to understand!! This was very helpful for me and my husband! I’m off to vote!

  7. Lori says:

    Thank you! This made it all very clear. The wording was so ambiguous that even my nephew who is going to be a lawyer could not understand it. I would have voted incorrectly if you had not put it into simple english. I am sure that people who have not researched the amendments would not cast an intelligent vote.

  8. Joseph says:

    It was quite a challenge looking for a website that addressed the issues that are so important to us. Your site proved to be very helpful.
    Now I feel confident to vote with a sense of ease. Good work!

  9. Lucette says:

    This was very helpful, the legal mumbo jumbo was too confusing, too many double negatives, your website definitely helped me to make the better decisions.

  10. Joe S says:

    Thank you for this valuable resource!

  11. Your explanations were clear and helpful. However, it should be understood and demanded by all citizens, that in order to properly comprehend proposed changes to constitutional amendments..SIMPLE ENGLISH needs to be the lowest common demonator. I dare say that the vast majority of citizens affected by these proposed changes do not understand the semi lawyerese. This is an intentional act to help sway the result of the public vote in favor of the real intent. Those who understand will do whats right…those that simply read but not understand the doubletalk will give a response not really intended. Again, thanks for your help but sad that we need it!!

  12. Laura Zel says:

    Thank you. This site did help to clear up the complicated, double negative language of the amendments. I feel more confident about my vote now.

  13. David G. Johnson
    David G. Johnson says:

    Thanks to all for the positive feedback. I can understand everyone’s frustration with the language in these amendments… it was laborious and tedious to work through them myself.

    And just think… this is what they wrote when they knew we were looking! Imagine how they write when they think (rightly so, perhaps) we aren’t looking!

    Glad this was useful to you. I’m wide open for ideas about what we might do to be helpful in the future.

    Thanks for reading… but more importantly: thanks for voting!

    Best Wishes,

    David G. Johnson

  14. Tom & Lisa says:

    very helpful! thanks so much!

  15. Sandy says:

    Very helpful and useful. Thank you. When we lived in Washington state the county or state provided an election summary on amendments and on each candidtate, written both by pro and con perspectives, by those that sponsored amendment or for people running for election they each got to write a short blurb. I still wish someone would create a database that any city, county, or state could alter to support what the votes they have cast are, in an easy format or summarize somehow, as is so hard to keep up with local, state, and national candidates and what they say vs. what they have done. Then these amendments are always fun to understand, so thank you again so very much. In the future if you could give data on the local judges that would be great, but probably too much work for free. Thanks for your public service with this site.

  16. This definitely was very helpful, Thank you.

  17. Thank you so much! I didn’t have the time or the headache to figure out what I was reading on the sample ballot. I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t know to vote yes or no to get what I wanted. THANKS!

  18. Rick says:

    Thank you for the useful quick reference.

  19. Lonnie says:

    Thank you so much!!! I am so glad you posted this!

  20. Paula says:

    This site was very helpful. I didn’t want to go in to vote without knowing about the amendments. Thanks very much.

    1. David G. Johnson
      David G. Johnson says:

      Hi Paula,

      Thanks for your comment. I just wanted to point out that the post you read applies to the amendment list from 2008. We should have a forthcoming update for the 2010 list.

      Hope to see you back!

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