EDITORIAL STAFF - The Boca Beacon will be running a breakdown of the proposed amendments on the Lee County Ballot prior to the election in November. This is a four-page ballot, and voters need to be prepared.
Candidates are running ads explaining why you should vote for them. PACs are paying for commercials filled with ominous or hopeful music to get to you to vote yes or no on an amendment. But for all of the content flooding us, the one thing most of us are missing is actual information.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the election, we will be running the official summaries of each of the eleven proposed amendments to the state constitution, along with a plain-English explanatin of what each amendment would do, who is sponsoring the amendment and what your Yes or No vote will mean.
Amendment 1- Health Care Services
Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage; permit a person or an employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from a health care provider; permit a health care provider to accept direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and taxes for paying directly or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; and prohibit laws or rules from abolishing the private market for health care coverage of any lawful health care service. Specifies that the amendment does not affect which health care services a health care provider is required to perform or provide; affect which health care services are permitted by law; prohibit care provided pursuant to general law relating to workers' compensation; affect laws or rules in effect as of March 1, 2010; affect the terms or conditions of any health care system to the extent that those terms and conditions do not have the effect of punishing a person or an employer for paying directly for lawful health care services or a health care provider for accepting direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; or affect any general law passed by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature, passed after the effective date of the amendment, provided such law states with specificity the public necessity justifying the exceptions from the provisions of the amendment. The amendment expressly provides that it may not be construed to prohibit negotiated provisions in insurance contracts, network agreements, or other provider agreements contractually limiting copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other patient charges.
Sponsor: Florida Legislature
Effect: Would add an amendment to the state constitution attempting to prohibit government from requiring individuals to buy health insurance.
Vote Yes: You want the Florida Constitution to include a provision that prohibits the government from requiring you to purchase health insurance.
Vote No: You do not want the Florida Constitution to include a provision that prohibits the government from requiring you to purchase health insurance.
AMENDMENT 2 - Veteran’s Property Tax Discount
Proposing an amendment to Section 6 of Article VII and the creation of Section 32 of Article XII of the State Constitution to expand the availability of the property discount on the homesteads of veterans who became disabled as the result of a combat injury to include those who were not Florida residents when they entered the military and schedule the amendment to take effect January 1, 2013.
Effect: Would allow certain disabled veterans, who were not Florida residents prior to military service, to qualify for a discount on property taxes.
Vote Yes: You want Florida to give a property tax discount to veterans who became disabled as a result of military service and who moved to Florida after they joined the military.
Vote No: You do not want Florida to give a tax discount to veterans who became disabled as a result of military service and who moved to Florida after they joined the military.
Amendment 3 - State Revenue LimitationThis proposed amendment to the State Constitution replaces the existing state revenue limitation based on Florida personal income growth with a new state revenue limitation based on inflation and population changes. Under the amendment, state revenues, as defined in the amendment, collected in excess of the revenue limitation must be deposited into the budget stabilization fund until the fund reaches its maximum balance, and thereafter shall be used for the support and maintenance of public schools by reducing the minimum financial effort required from school districts for participation in a state-funded education finance program, or, if the minimum financial effort is no longer required, returned to the taxpayers. The Legislature may increase the state revenue limitation through a bill approved by a super majority vote of each house of the Legislature. The Legislature may also submit a proposed increase in the state revenue limitation to the voters. The Legislature must implement this proposed amendment by general law. The amendment will take effect upon approval by the electors and will first apply to the 2014-2015 state fiscal year.
Effect: State revenue limits would be set each year based on population growth and inflation instead of the method currently used, which calculates revenue based on personal income.
Vote Yes: You want the state to change revenue calculation method.
Vote No: Maintain the current method of calculating revenue.
AMENDMENT 5 - State Courts
Proposing a revision of Article V of the State Constitution relating to the judiciary. The State Constitution authorizes the Supreme Court to adopt rules for the practice and procedure in all courts. The constitution further provides that a rule of court may be repealed by a general law enacted by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature. This proposed constitutional revision eliminates the requirement that a general law repealing a court rule pass by a two-thirds vote of each house, thereby providing that the Legislature may repeal a rule of court by a general law approved by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature that expresses the policy behind the repeal. The court could readopt the rule in conformity with the public policy expressed by the Legislature, but if the Legislature determines that a rule has been readopted and repeals the readopted rule, this proposed revision prohibits the court from further readopting the repealed rule without the Legislature's prior approval. Under current law, rules of the judicial nominating commissions and the Judicial Qualifications Commission may be repealed by general law enacted by a majority vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature. Under this proposed revision, a vote to repeal those rules is changed to repeal by general law enacted by a majority vote of the legislators present. Under current law, the Governor appoints a justice of the Supreme Court from a list of nominees provided by a judicial nominating commission, and appointments by the Governor are not subject to confirmation. This revision requires Senate confirmation of a justice of the Supreme Court before the appointee can take office. If the Senate votes not to confirm the appointment, the judicial nominating commission must reconvene and may not renominate any person whose prior appointment to fill the same vacancy was not confirmed by the Senate. For the purpose of confirmation, the Senate may meet at any time. If the Senate fails to vote on the appointment of a justice within 90 days, the justice will be deemed confirmed and will take office. The Judicial Qualifications Commission is an independent commission created by the State Constitution to investigate and prosecute before the Florida Supreme Court alleged misconduct by a justice or judge. Currently under the constitution, commission proceedings are confidential until formal charges are filed by the investigative panel of the commission. Once formal charges are filed, the formal charges and all further proceedings of the commission are public. Currently, the constitution authorizes the House of Representatives to impeach a justice or judge. Further, the Speaker of the House of Representatives may request, and the Judicial Qualifications Commission must make available, all information in the commission's possession for use in deciding whether to impeach a justice or judge. This proposed revision requires the commission to make all of its files available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives but provides that such files would remain confidential during any investigation by the House of Representatives and until such information is used in the pursuit of an impeachment of a justice or judge. This revision also removes the power of the Governor to request files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission to conform to a prior constitutional change. This revision also makes technical and clarifying additions and deletions relating to the selection of chief judges of a circuit and relating to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and makes other nonsubstantive conforming and technical changes in the judicial article of the constitution.
Effect: Provide Senate confirmation of Supreme Court justices, legislatural control over changes to rules for the court system and make the Judicial Qualifications Commission’s investigative files open to the State House of Representatives.
Vote Yes: You want the Senate to have confirmation power over Supreme Court appointees, and some say over changes to the rules state courts work under. You also want the House to have access to investigation files on judges.
Vote No: You do not want to make these changes to the state’s court system.
See next week’s Boca Beacon for more amendment information.
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