Florida Amendments Pass and Fail

Nov 5, 2014

Florida Amendments Pass and Fail

Amendment One Passes

The land-conservation amendment that drew grumbling from Republican legislative leaders and some business groups passed with about 75 percent of the vote Tuesday. The proposal will require the state to dedicate a portion of real-estate tax revenue over the next 20 years for environmental preservation.

The proposal will generate billions of dollars from the already-existing tax, with the money going to buy or restore areas crucial to Florida's water supply, such as the land around springs, and natural systems that have been ruined, such as the Everglades. Allison DeFoor chaired the effort to pass the amendment.

“Clearly the people of Florida care about their environment,” said DeFoor. “We believed that when we started this effort, and we bet everything we had on it. It appears our hope was warranted.”

Supporters argued the measure is necessary because lawmakers dramatically reduced funding for the Florida Forever conservation program in recent years.

Republican legislative leaders, however, argued against the amendment because it would force lawmakers to set aside money every year for conservation and give them less flexibility in how to spend tax dollars.

Amendment Two Fails

Meanwhile, little more than three months ago, Floridians appeared poised to overwhelmingly pass a constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana. But Tuesday, after a barrage of negative ads by opponents, the idea came crashing down.

57.5 percent of voters backed amendment two at last count. But constitutional amendments require approval from 60 percent of voters to pass. Vote No on 2 spokesperson Sarah Bascom said voters made the right decision.

“This amendment, had it been engrained in the constitution, would have been very bad for Florida,” said Bascom. “There are no do-overs in the constitution, so the only way to rectify this amendment and to fix this issue was to vote no.”

The medical-marijuana initiative was spearheaded by Orlando attorney John Morgan, who is known throughout the state for his ubiquitous Morgan and Morgan law-firm television ads and billboards.

Amendment Three Fails

Florida Voters have rejected a constitutional amendment that would have given an outgoing governor the ability to name future state Supreme Court Justices. Opponents of Amendment Three called the proposal a power-grab. League of Women Voters of Florida President Diedre McNabb agrees it was a bad idea.        

“You really can’t think of any other situation where you are asking an outgoing elected official to pick the team that will be serving in the future,” said McNabb. “That’s what this proposal by the legislature was proposing to do. Voters said no, and they said no strongly.”

Supporters of Amendment Three claimed the constitution wasn’t clear on whether the incoming or outgoing governor could make the appointments. The terms of three left-leaning Florida Supreme Court Justices expire in 2019, the same day a new governor will take office. Opponents argued it was political and could tilt the balance of the court. The failure of Amendment Three means the next governor will have the power to name replacement justices.