THE 'BURG VOTES

Opinion

Amendment Positions by Florida Senator Darryl Rouson

Florida Senator Darryl Rouson is current Chairman of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation; he represents Senate District 19 and was one of 37 members of the state’s Constitutional Revision Commission, which convenes every 20 years.

My positions on the 12 amendments

I strongly recommend calling your Supervisor of Elections and asking for a mail ballot. The length of the ballot may take a half hour to complete, better to do so in the convenience of our homes.

  • Amendment 1: Placed by the Florida Legislature. Increase the homestead exemption by $25,000 on values over $100,000 for local property taxes. School taxes are not affected. I will vote NO, it takes too much revenue from our already financially stressed local governments. You can go the local property appraiser website to see how much you will save.
  • Amendment 2: Placed by the Florida Legislature. Make the 10 percent increase cap on non-homestead property permanent. This says that if you own commercial property the taxable value can not increase by more than 10 percent a year. I will vote YES, this make current law permanent and protects small business owners from spikes in real-estate values.
  • Amendment 3: Placed by petition initiative. This would give voter control over all expansion of gaming in Florida. It would require a vote of the people to allow Vegas style casino gaming. I will vote YES, this allows us, the people to control how are state looks and protects from outside money influencing the legislature.
  • Amendment 4: Placed by petition initiative. This restores the right to vote to felons who are not convicted of sex crimes or murder upon the completion of their sentences. Florida currently has over one and half million citizens who are disenfranchised. I will vote YES, this is a basic fairness issue that allows people who have committed crimes the ability to become full citizens again.
  • Amendment 5: Placed by the Florida Legislature. This amendment would require a 2/3 super majority vote to raise taxes or fees going forward. Currently, we require a simple majority. I am voting NO, this is tyranny of the minority and would hamstring future legislatures. This is the work of a political party in control that thinks it is going to lose it majority.
  • Amendment 6: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission. Rights of crime victims (Marsy’s Law) and Judge retirement ages. This would raise the retirement age of judges to 75 from 70 and would codify rights to victims of crimes. These rights would include notification and right to make a statement to the judge. This take no rights away from criminals. I am voting YES, we need to ensure that our neighbors who are victims of crimes are treated with dignity and have their voice heard. Judges ages reflect the longer life spans we all enjoy.
  • Amendment 7: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission. First responder survivor benefits and making universities require a super majority vote of their trustees to raise fees. This would provide education expenses to survivors of first responders killed in action. It would also require a super majority vote to raise fees and tuition in Florida colleges and universities. I will vote NO, the death benefits are well intentioned, but can be done outside of the constitution. The supermajority provision will hamstring our universities having enough revenue going forward.
  • Amendment 8: This amendment will appear but has been stricken from the ballot and will not count.
  • Amendment 9: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission. Prohibits offshore oil drilling in state waters and bans vaping indoors. I will vote YES, this will prevent oil drilling for 9 miles off our coasts. We can see how fragile our environment is already without having to contend with oil spills. Banning vaping indoors to protect against second hand smoke is an extension of our clean indoor air laws started by the Senator from my seat in the 1980s Jeanne Malchon.
  • Amendment 10: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission. This would prohibit counties from changing their government structures and appointing certain elected officials such as the Supervisor of Elections and changing current office responsibilities. I will vote NO, I firmly believe in local control and home rule. if a local county wants to move job responsibilities around or appoint a certain office rather then elect, why should I substitute my judgement for yours.
  • Amendment 11: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission. This amendment removes old language from the constitution and allows the legislature to reduce sentences for past offenses. I am voting YES, in full disclosure I authored this amendment. The language deleted is already repealed or unconstitutional, so a no vote does not bring back the high-speed rail. The “saving clause” as it is titled would allow the legislature in their wisdom to correct for past mistake of too draconian sentences for crimes that the penalties have since been reduced. For instance, if you were convicted of crack cocaine possession five years ago and the sentence was 20 years, but the legislature realized that was too harsh and reduced the maximum sentence to 5 years for current convictions you would still have to serve the 20 years. This would allow the legislature to retroactively reduce the sentence to the new lower penalty.
  • Amendment 12: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission, this would ban elected officials from lobbying for pay for 6 years after they left office. I will vote YES, this is a broad amendment but seeks to end or reduce public corruption and end the revolving door of lobbyists to government that we all despise.
  • Amendment 13: Placed by the Constitutional Revision Commission. This would ban betting on Dog racing in Florida. This would effectively end Grey Hound racing in Florida. I will vote YES, as a society the treatment of animals in this fashion is no longer tolerated and needs to be stopped. We know that the way we treat animals is how we eventually treat people.

Any questions that this did not answer please email me at voterouson@gmail.com and I will personally answer.

 

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