Constitutional Amendments on the 2020 Ballot:
Six constitutional amendments are on the 2020 ballot, four Citizen Initiated Constitutional Amendments (CICA) and two Legislature Referred Constitutional Amendments (LRCA). Constitutional amendments require a supermajority of at least 60% to pass.
Three have little or no opposition and are expected to pass easily:
CICA Amendment 1 – Who cannot vote? The constitution currently says “Every” citizen can vote. The amendment clarifies who cannot vote by changing the wording from “Every” citizen to “Only a” citizen.
LRCA Amendment 5 – Increases the period during which a person may transfer “Save Our Homes” benefits to a new homesteaded property from two to three years.
LRCA Amendment 6 – Allows a homesteaded property tax discount to be transferred to the surviving spouse of a deceased veteran.
Amendments 5 & 6 passed unanimously in both the House and Senate.
Three CICA’s have some level of opposition:
CICA Amendment 2 – $15 Minimum Wage – If passed, this amendment would increase the state minimum wage from the current $8.56 to $10 on September 30, 2021 and by an additional $1 each year to $15 in 2026 and would be indexed to inflation each year thereafter.
This amendment seeks the same goal as Florida’s original minimum wage amendment in 2004 whose Public Policy statement says “All working Floridians are entitled to be paid a minimum wage that is sufficient to provide a decent and healthy life for them and their families, that protects their employers from unfair low-wage competition, and that does not force them to rely on taxpayer-funded public services in order to avoid economic hardship“. That amendment failed to accomplish its goal, evidenced by the current minimum wage of $8.56; as its inflation indexing produced an average annual increase of only 2.2%. John Morgan is the sponsor of Amendment 2 and Chair of Florida for a Fair Wage.
Opponents include the President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association who states that passage of the amendment would reduce both the number of jobs and the hours worked of employees.
CICA Amendment 3 – Top-Two Open Primaries – This amendment would replace closed primaries, where voters are limited to registered party members, with top-two primaries in which all candidates would be placed on one ballot regardless of political affiliation and the top two candidates with the most votes would advance to the general election.
Twenty-one states conduct open primaries for congressional and state-level offices.
The amendment is opposed by both the Republican and Democratic parties.
CICA Amendment 4 – Require Constitutional Amendments to be Passed Twice – The amendment would require constitutional amendments to be approved by voters at two successive general elections.
Supporters want “to keep the constitution clean” by making it more difficult for citizens to successfully initiate legislation.
To Florida’s credit, it is one of 18 states which have a process for citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. Florida is the most restrictive with its 60% supermajority requirement. The only other state which requires a supermajority is Colorado at 55%. Only one state requires that such amendments must be passed in two successive elections.
Opponents, including the League of Women Voters, point out a pattern of other legislative efforts to prevent citizens from successfully initiating legislation, including the passage of House Bill 7037 in the latest session to make the process more difficult and expensive. House Bill 7037 was sponsored By Jamie Grant, District 64 and co-sponsored by Mike Beltran, District 57; Dane Eagle, District 77; and Rick Roth, District 85. The bill was opposed in the Judiciary Committee by Fentrice Driskell, District 63; and Ben Diamond, District 68. In the final House floor action, the bill was approved 73 to 45 along party lines. The bill was approved by the Governor on April 8, 2020 and became effective on that date. It is now a law which should be repealed to protect the rights of citizens to introduce legislation.