Few organizations in Walton County could offer direction to voters who may need more information before supporting or opposing the 11 Amendments to the Florida constitution on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The Walton County Taxpayers Association gave an amendment-by-amendment position, while the Walton County Commissioners and administrator only supported Amendment 11, and declined to make a stance on any of the other 10.
“Walton County as a whole has not taken a stand …” said Walton County Administrator Gerry Demers, adding that the county supports Amendment 11, which “is a tool to try and entice businesses to locate to Walton County.”
Frank Day said the Democratic Executive Committee “is not endorsing any of the amendments. I certainly respect the rights of individuals to support any of the amendments.”
The Walton County Taxpayers Association released its stance on each amendment, though its board did not give in-depth reasons for each decision.
“The Board was elected to poll its members … not to spend the time required for each member to delve in-depth into his or her reasons for opposing or supporting each of the 11,” said Don Riley, president of WCTA, citing a longstanding policy “to refrain from publicly airing differences of opinion within or with the board once a board position has been taken.”
Below is a brief explanation of each of the 11 amendments, as well as the position taken by WCTA.
Voting yes on Amendment 1, aka Florida Healthcare Amendment, is voting againstlaws or rules that would compel an individual or an employer to purchase, obtain, or provide health care coverage. WCTA supports.
If passed, Amendment 2 would give property tax discounts to Florida residents who are disabled veterans, whether they were living in Florida prior to 2010 or not. WCTA supports.
A yes on Amendment 3would increase revenue limits based on inflation and population change. Funds in excess of the limit would go into a separate pot. Once that reaches 10 percent of the prior year's total budget, the state legislature would vote to provide tax relief or reduce property taxes. WCTA supports.
The assessed value of a homesteaded house would remain static, or be capped at a certain amount, if its fair market value decreases if Amendment 4 passes. Non-homestead or commercial property would have assessment increases capped at 5 percent annually. WCTA supports.
Amendment 5, aka Florida Supreme Court Amendment, would revise provisions of repeal of court rules, limits re-adoption of repealed court rule, and stipulates that all appointments to the Florida Supreme Court be confirmed by the Senate. The legislation would also grant the House access to investigative files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission. WCTA takes no position.
If Amendment 6 passes, it would block the use of public funds to help pay for an abortion unless it is required by the guidelines of federal law or the mother’s life is in danger. WCTA takes no position.
Amendment 7 became Amendment 8 after changes.
Amendment 8, aka the Florida Religious Freedom Amendment, is a repeal of “The Blaine Amendment,” which banned public dollars for religious funding. Individuals would be able to participate in public programs even if they choose to use public funds at a religious provider. WCTA takes no position.
A yes on Amendment 9 would exempt surviving spouses of military veterans or first responders who died in the line of duty from paying property taxes. WCTA opposes.
If Amendment 10 is passed, it would provide an ad valorem tax exemption from local government entities on tangible personal property valued at greater than $25,000 but less than $50,000. WCTA takes no position.
A yes on Amendment 11 would allow the state legislature to authorize counties and municipalities to give additional tax exemptions on the homes of low-income seniors. WCTA supports.
Amendment 12, if passed, would replace the president of the Florida Student Association with the chair of the council of state university student body presidents as the student member of the Board of Governors of the State University System. The amendment also requires that the Board of Governors create a council of state university student body presidents. Nobody seems to understand the impact of this amendment, and nobody took any kind of stance.
Vote on the 11 amendments and the hopeful candidates Nov. 6 at your voting precinct. Visit VoteWalton.com for polling locations, as well as a sample ballot. For more amendment information, visit: votesmart.org/elections/ballot-measures/2012/FL#.UJGV891mOBU.