The 2014 Florida Amendments. And Why You Should Know Them. Susan Nilon

YesOn1ButtonImageThere are three constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this November.  Both Amendment One, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, and Amendment Two, Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, are initiated constitutional amendments – 683,149 signatures from at least 14 of the state’s 27 congressional districts were collected of Florida residents.  The Third Amendment, Florida Prospective Judicial Vacancies, is on the ballot because it received a sixty percent majority vote in both the legislative chambers via a joint resolution.  To be approved, these amendments must garner a supermajority – at least 60 percent or more of the vote.

Amendment One: Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative

This amendment would create a fund that is designed to acquire land for preservation, manage and restore natural systems, and to enhance public access and recreational use of conservation lands.”  For the next 20 years, 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents would be placed in this fund every year.  This will become the law and no longer subject to the state budget every year.

If there is a concern, it is that the state legislature would place less of an emphasis on Florida Forever, a fund already in place that is used to acquire environmentally sensitive lands.  The difference is that there is no requirement to fund Florida Forever, as seen in 2011 during the first year Governor Scott was in office.  ZERO dollars were dedicated to the fund.  Amendment One would prevent that from happening.

Amendment Two: Florida Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative

Ballotpedia states the law is defined:

  • That medical use of marijuana by a qualifying patient or personal caregiver is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law.
  • That a licensed physician is not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions for issuing medical marijuana to a person diagnosed with a “debilitating medical condition” under state law.
  • That registered medical marijuana treatment centers are not subject to criminal or civil liability or sanctions under state law.

The Florida Department of Health would help regulate the practice of the law by issuing patient and care giver ID’s, the amount of marijuana used for medical reasons, and patient confidentiality.  But the true regulation would come from the State and local government.  Even before the law is voted on in November, local governments are already deciding whether to “opt in” and allow for dispensaries, growers and distributors in their community.

A major concern is the ambiguity of this amendment.  With fear of a loose interpretation, citizens and bombarded with fear mongering and misinformation of how it will be put into practice.  Can a chiropractor really issue a prescription for medical marijuana?  Will there really be a dispensary on every corner like it is out in California?  The answer is no.  Unless our state legislature wants it to be that way.  Because if the amendment passes, they will get to define how it is implemented and how it is used.

Amendment Three: The Florida Prospective Judicial Vacancies

This amendment decides whether the outgoing or the incoming governor gets to fill the vacancies of the State Supreme Court that coincide with the end of the current governor’s term.

It’s really pretty simple, on January 8, 2015, three judges will be retired due to mandatory age retirements.  If you vote “yes” to this amendment, then Rick Scott will get to make the appointment.  If you vote “no,” and Rick Scott loses this election, then the new Governor will get to make the appointment.  The next three appointments will have a tremendous effect on the direction of the State Supreme Court.

Vote Wisely.

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