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Florida voters give a thumbs down to constitutional amendments

Florida voters decided to keep a commission that meets every 20 years to make changes to the state constitution despite lawmakers who argued it is no longer needed.

The measure failed to reach the 60% threshold needed to pass.

Critics said Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission had gone beyond its original mandate and lacked accountability, and the Legislature decided last year to ask voters to abolish it in a ballot measure. The critics also noted that citizens would still be able pursue amendments with initiative petitions.

But citizens groups argued in favor of holding onto the commission as one of the pathways to change the constitution. Groups such as Common Cause Florida urged voters to reject the ballot measure.

Members of the 37-member commission are overwhelmingly appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. Formed in the late 1960s, the panel last met in 2017-18, when it placed seven proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot.

Voters approved all seven. But lawmakers complained that the commission had bundled different subjects into single proposed amendments, and others said that the panel’s membership was politically driven and included unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, political donors and lobbyists.

The other two amendments would have provided property tax breaks.

Amendment 1 sought to prevent properties’ assessed values from increasing because of improvements aimed at combating flooding. Amendment 3 sought to expand the homestead property tax exemption for teachers, first responders and military members.

The Constitution Revision Commission proposal received about 54 percent support with about 97 percent of the vote reported, according to the state Division of Elections website. The tax proposals drew more support but did not appear likely to reach the 60 percent threshold.

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