Judges Reject Three Florida Legislature's Ballot Amendments

This is not the year for Florida’s ballot amendments. First, Amendment 7 (dealing with redistricting) was stuck down on July 8th. Then Amendment 3 (dealing with limiting property tax increases) on July 23rd. And now Amendment 9 (dealing with health care freedom) has been struck down on July 29th.

All these amendments were struck down because of wording, either title or summary or both.

Florida Redistricting, Amendment 7

While there are two other Amendments on the ballot that deals with redistricting, this one will would bar lawmakers from favoring any political party or incumbent when redrawing legislative and congressional districts.

Some say that this amendment is unnecessary because of the other two amendments. Fair enough, but people have been asking for something like this since, well, forever. Let them vote on this instead of having a judge chose for us.

Florida Property Tax Limit, Amendment 3

This amendment would limit the maximum annual increase in the assessed values of nonhomestead property to 5% and provid a $25,000 exemption for people who had not owned a “prinicpal property” in the previous 8 years.

Now I am still researching this amendment, but from what I read I don’t like this law. For a couple good reasons:

1) It interferes with the values of nonhomestead property. Let me break that down for you: The value of such places as a vacation home or an investment property, cannot be raised more than 5% a year. Now while this was the cause of the housing bubble, the private sector should still tell us how much a property should go up and not the government. Government interference is what got us here in the first place, not property values. It’s meddling and I don’t support it.

2) That said, this does nothing for the value of homestead properties. If this amendment covered all residental homes, I might be able to buy into this amendment.

3) There is no cap on property taxes. Sure values of some homes might be limited, but not taxes. Personaly, I like Governor Chris Christie’s 2.5% cap on property taxes (and spending) over this bad amendment.

This was bad law, but I don’t agree with throwing it off the ballot.

Florida Health Care Freedom, Amendment 9

Amendment 9, or the Florida Health Care Freedom Amendment, would have ban any laws that require people to participate in a health care system. In other words, ObamaCare’s Individual Mandate. This would also ban the Florida Legislature from giving us their version of RomneyCare. This is why it was thrown out:

In his ruling Thursday, Circuit Judge James Shelfer said the summary language of the legislature’s health care proposal was so confusing a person reading it could be led to think they’d never be put on a waiting list in a doctor’s office.

“I think that the three phrases the plaintiff has pointed out in the ballot summary are manifestly misleading” the judge said “There is nothing in the amendment itself that references those matters.”
The ballot summary says the proposal would “ensure access to health care services without waiting lists, protect doctor-patient relationship, and guard against mandates that don’t work.”

At first I was mad over the ruling of the judge over Amendment 9. However begrudgingly, while I support the amendment itself, I have to agree with the judge in that the summary is very misleading. Ballot summaries must be accurate so the average voter can make an inform choice at the ballot. While I hope Florida’s Supreme Court allows the amendment on the ballot, I will not be surprised if Judge James Shelfer’s ruling is upheld.

All of these legal wranglings must be dealt with by September 2, the deadline before ballot printing begins. The Florida Supreme Court should take up these amendments as quickly as possible, so we can have a robust debate on these messures as soon as possible.

[Cross-Posted On Practical State.com]