2020 Constitutional Amendments

FloridAgriculture eNewsletter,  August 2020

The process to amend the states constitution is interesting in Florida, as there are multiple avenues to change our state’s overarching governing document. Florida Farm Bureau takes a close look at all of the constitutional proposals on the ballot and has always been wary of citizen initiatives that change the state’s foundational document.

FFBF policy states that the Constitution should be the founding document that describes the powers, duties and functions of the state government. FFBF policy also opposes measures that could be addressed through the regular legislative process. So clearly, a very high standard must be met for amendments to gain support.

The 2020 amendments below are proposals that have made ballot status. The FFBF board will likely review these at the next board meeting and we will inform our members on which amendments Florida Farm Bureau will support or oppose.

Amendment 1: Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections

How the Amendment Reached the Ballot: Citizen Initiative

This amendment states that only United States Citizens who are at least eighteen years of age, a permanent resident of Florida, and registered to vote, as provided by law, shall be qualified to vote in a Florida election.

Amendment 2: Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage

How the Amendment Reached the Ballot: Citizen Initiative

This amendment raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30, 2027.

Amendment 3: All Voters Vote in Primary Elections for State Legislature, Governor and Cabinet

How the Amendment Reached the Ballot: Citizen Initiative

This amendment allows all registered voters to vote in primaries for state legislature, governor, and cabinet regardless of political party affiliation. All candidates for an office, including party nominated candidates, appear on the same primary ballot. Two highest vote getters advance to general election. If only two candidates qualify, no primary is held and the winner is determined in general election. The candidate’s party affiliation may appear on the ballot as provided by law. This would be effective January 1, 2024.

Amendment 4: Voters Approval of Constitutional Amendments

How the Amendment Reached the Ballot: Citizen Initiative

This amendment requires all proposed amendments or revisions to the state constitution to be approved by the voters in two elections, instead of one, in order to take effect. The proposal applies the current thresholds for passage to each of the two elections.

Florida Farm Bureau Federation also supported House Bill 7037 by Rep. Jamie Grant during the 2020 legislative session and SB 1794 by Sen. Travis Hutson which was approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis. This legislation includes several provisions that make the Constitutional initiative process more deliberative including raising the threshold of voter petitions to trigger language review, transparency measures requiring disclosure of out-of-state participation and shortening the amount of time groups have to gather petitions. It will also require groups pushing for a ballot initiative to pay for the signature verification process with local supervisors of elections’ offices. This bill adds important accountability into the system that allows citizens to propose amendments to the Florida constitution.

Amendment 5: Extend “Save our Homes” Portability Period for Homestead Property Tax Assessment

How the Amendment Reached the Ballot: Florida State Legislature

This would propose an amendment to the State Constitution, effective January 1, 2021, to increase, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.

Amendment 6: Homestead Property Tax Discount for Surviving Spouses of Deceased Veterans

How the Amendment Reached the Ballot: Florida State Legislature

This amendment would provide that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran’s surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2021.