Op/Ed: Dissecting Ballot Questions


By: former Boca Councilman Robert Weinroth Special to the Boca Newspaper

Over the next few months, you can rest assured there will be a great deal of attention paid to the multitude of ballot questions voters will be asked to review during the general election in November. Eight of the questions were placed on the ballot as a result of the Constitutional Revision Commission.

Pursuant to Article XI, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution, a 37-member revision commission is established once every 20 years for the purpose of reviewing Florida’s Constitution and proposing changes for voter consideration.

The CRC met for the past year, traveling the state of Florida, identifying issues, performing research and recommending possible changes to the Constitution. Amendments approved by the CRC are placed directly on the ballot where, as with all other ballot questions, 60 percent of the vote is required for each amendment to be approved.

The 2017-2018 CRC, which adjourned on May 11, combined approved revisions into eight proposals. In some cases, voters will be faced with revisions where they support only part. Approval of a proposed revision will enact all matters contained within each proposed revision.

The following is a summary of the proposals. To review the full language of the proposals, go to http://flcrc.gov

Revision 1: Rights of Crime Victims; Judges.

The proposed revision would revise and establish additional rights of victims of crime; and increase the age after which a justice or judge may no longer serve in a judicial office; and require a state court or an officer hearing an administrative action to interpret a state statute or rule de novo in litigation between an administrative agency and a private party.

Revision 2: First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges & Universities.

The proposed revision would establish minimum vote thresholds for university boards of trustees and the board of governors to impose or authorize a new fee or increase an existing fee, specify the purposes of the State College System and provide for the governance structure of the system; and establish the right of survivors of specified first responders and military members to death benefits.

Revision 3: School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools.

The proposed revision would establish a  limitation on the period for which a person may serve as a member of a district school board; specify which schools are operated, controlled, and supervised by a school board; and require the Legislature to provide for the promotion of civic literacy in public education.

Revision 4: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces.

The proposed revision would prohibit the drilling for exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas in specified state waters; and establish a general prohibition on the use of vapor-generating electronic devices in enclosed indoor workplaces.

Revision 5: State and Local Government Structure and Operation.

The proposed revision would provide the Legislature convene for regular session on the second Tuesday after the first Monday in January of each even-numbered year; establish the Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the FDLE; require, rather than authorize, the Legislature to provide for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and prescribe its duties by general law and to remove the authority of a county charter or a special law to provide for choosing county officers in a manner other than election and to prohibit a county charter from abolishing county officers, transferring the duties of a county officer to another officer or office, changing the length of  terms of county officers, or establishing any manner of selection of county officers other than by election.

Revision 6: Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes.

The proposed revision would to remove a provision authorizing laws that regulate or prohibit the ownership, inheritance, disposition, and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship; remove prohibition on the retroactive application of changes in criminal laws to punishment of previously committed crimes; and delete an obsolete Constitutional provision regarding the development of a high speed ground transportation system.

Revision 7: Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers.

The proposed revision would create a new section of the State Constitution to establish certain restrictions for specified public officers and the judiciary regarding lobbying for compensation of another person or entity before certain government bodies and to prohibit the abuse of  a public position by public officers and employees.

Revision 8: Ends Dog Racing

The proposed revision would prohibit the racing of, and wagering on, greyhounds and other dogs after a specified date.

These are by no means the only proposals that will confront voters on November.

It is clear voters should consider securing Vote by Mail ballots to avoid the anticipated long lines at the polling locations.

To apply for your Vote by Mail (Absentee) ballot in Palm Beach County, go to the Supervisor of Elections office or apply online at: www.pbcelections.org