The Boca Beacon has been running a breakdown of the proposed state amendments prior to the election in November. This is a long ballot, and voters need to be prepared.
This is the second in a three-part series of official summaries of each of the 11 proposed amendments to the state constitution, along with a plain-English explanation of what each amendment would do, who is sponsoring the amendment and what your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote will mean.
Amendment 4 - Property tax limitation; property value decline; reduction for non-homesteaded assessment increases; delay of scheduled repeal
(1) This would amend Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 4 (Taxation; assessments) and Section 6 (Homestead exemptions). It also would amend Article XII, Section 27, and add Sections 32 and 33, relating to the Schedule for the amendments.(2) In certain circumstances, the law requires the assessed value of homestead and specified nonhomestead property to increase when the just value of the property decreases. Therefore, this amendment provides that the Legislature may, by general law, provide that the assessment of homestead and specified nonhomestead property may not increase if the just value of that property is less than the just value of the property on the preceding January 1, subject to any adjustment in the assessed value due to changes, additions, reductions, or improvements to such property which are assessed as provided for by general law. This amendment takes effect upon approval by the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, shall take effect January 1, 2013.(3) This amendment reduces from 10 percent to 5 percent the limitation on annual changes in assessments of nonhomestead real property. This amendment takes effect upon approval of the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, takes effect January 1, 2013.(4) This amendment also authorizes general law to provide, subject to conditions specified in such law, an additional homestead exemption to every person who establishes the right to receive the homestead exemption provided in the Florida Constitution within 1 year after purchasing the homestead property and who has not owned property in the previous 3 calendar years to which the Florida homestead exemption applied. The additional homestead exemption shall apply to all levies except school district levies. The additional exemption is an amount equal to 50 percent of the homestead property’s just value on January 1 of the year the homestead is established. The additional homestead exemption may not exceed an amount equal to the median just value of all homestead property within the county where the property at issue is located for the calendar year immediately preceding January 1 of the year the homestead is established. The additional exemption shall apply for the shorter of 5 years or the year of sale of the property. The amount of the additional exemption shall be reduced in each subsequent year by an amount equal to 20 percent of the amount of the additional exemption received in the year the homestead was established or by an amount equal to the difference between the just value of the property and the assessed value of the property determined under Article VII, Section 4(d), whichever is greater. Not more than one such exemption shall be allowed per homestead property at one time. The additional exemption applies to property purchased on or after January 1, 2011, if approved by the voters at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, or to property purchased on or after January 1, 2012, if approved by the voters at the 2012 general election. The additional exemption is not available in the sixth and subsequent years after it is first received. The amendment shall take effect upon approval by the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, takes effect January 1, 2013.(5) This amendment also delays until 2023, the repeal, currently scheduled to take effect in 2019, of constitutional amendments adopted in 2008 which limit annual assessment increases for specified nonhomestead real property. This amendment delays until 2022 the submission of an amendment proposing the abrogation of such repeal to the voters.Sponsor: Florida LegislatureEffect: Would lower the maximum annual amount that taxable value of nonhomestead property can be increased from ten percent to five percent; gives first-time home buyers an extra homestead exemption; permits legislators to block increased assesments in taxable value on properties that are declining in market value.Vote Yes: You approve of the tax breaks being proposed.Vote No: You do not approve the tax breaks being proposed.
This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. This prohibition does not apply to an expenditure required by federal law, a case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, or a case of rape or incest. This proposed amendment provides that the State Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution. With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.Sponsor: Florida LegislatureEffect: The amendment would place the current federal ban on using public funds to pay for most abortions into the state constitution and restrict a woman’s right to privacy with regard to the right to choose an abortion.Vote Yes: You approve of placing into the state constitution the current federal ban on public funds to pay for most abortions and the restriction of a woman’s right to privacy with regard to the right to choose.Vote No: You do not approve of the proposed change to the state constitution or the restriction of a woman’s right to privacy with regard to the right to choose.
Amendment 7The language of Amendment 7 was challenged. As a result, the amendment was rewritten and submitted as Amendment 8.
Amendment 8 - Religious Freedom
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.Sponsor: Florida LegislatureEffect: Would repeal a 126-year-old provision in the state constitution that prohibits taxpayer funding of religious institutions.Vote Yes: You want to remove the provision and replace it with one that prohibits the state from denying funding of institutions based on religious affiliation.Vote No: You want to retain the provision that prohibits state funding of institutions based on religious affiliation.
See next week’s Boca Beacon for the breakdown of the last four amendments.
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