TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Less than a year away from the 2022 midterm elections, there are no high-profile proposed constitutional amendments to drive Florida voters to the polls.
But that could change — sports betting, legal marijuana, ranked-choice voting and protecting Florida’s iconic animal species are among the proposals vying to make it on the ballot.
So far, only two amendments have officially made it on the 2022 ballot.
Amendment 1, Limitation on Assessment of Real Property Used for Residential Purposes, would encourage homeowners to be more flood-ready by excluding home improvements that resist flooding from affecting the home’s assessed value for tax purposes.
Amendment 2, Abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission, is self-explanatory. The CRC meets every 20 years to suggest amendments. The commission last met in 2017, recommending eight changes to the Florida constitution. The commission is made up of 37 members; the attorney general is an automatic member. The remaining commissioners are appointed by the governor (15), Senate president (9), House speaker (9), and chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court (3). A previous effort to abolish the commission failed in 1980.
Several more proposed amendments are still going through the approval process.
One would fully legalize marijuana for adults to possess, transport, use, and grow, permitting up to nine plants per adult and 18 per household. The measure would also prohibit state lawmakers from limiting the percent THC content in marijuana, a proposal that gained some support in the Florida House earlier this year, but eventually failed.
Voters could have at least three gambling amendments to choose from.
Two proposed amendments would create more casinos: one authorizes three new casinos as long as they are not within 100 miles of any Tribal facility and the applicant spends at least $500 million within three years on “new development and construction costs…not includ[ing] any purchase price and costs associated with the acquisition of real property on which the Gaming Complex is located.”
The second would allow existing licensed cardrooms to expand into casinos if they spend $250 million dollars on development within three years and are not within 130 miles of a tribal casino.
A third proposed gambling amendment would allow sports betting for all adults 21 and older, whether online or at casinos, sports venues or dog tracks. Any tax revenue from sports betting collected by the state must go to the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.
Two proposed amendments come straight from fights over Covid-19 measures.
After turbulent battles between school districts and state leaders, a new proposed amendment would return the commissioner of education to an elected position on the Florida cabinet, a practice that ended with Charlie Crist in 2003, after which it was reduced to a position appointed by the state board of education and not on the cabinet.
The Freedom to Pray Together amendment would make illegal any governmental action to close churches or limit the size of their gatherings for more than 21 days unless approved by the legislature.
The Affordable Housing amendment would tackle the state’s growing crisis by establishing a state and local government housing trust fund, holding out 25 percent of the current excise tax on documents to fund measures like new construction and financial assistance for closing costs and down payments.
At the ballot box, another proposed amendment would allow ranked-choice voting in all general elections. Initially, votes would be tallied as normal — a candidate gets credit for all ballots where they are listed as the voter’s first choice. If no candidate gets a majority, the candidate who comes in last would have their votes reapportioned to the voter’s second-choice candidate. The process repeats until a candidate gets a majority of all counted votes.
And five proposed amendments from FL5.org attempt to provide constitutional protections for Florida’s wildlife and environment.
Two proposals would ban forms of hunting: captive wildlife and hunting of Florida’s iconic species, including the “Florida Black Bear, Florida Panther, Manatee, Key Deer, Florida Scrub Jay, Bald Eagle, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bottlenose Dolphin, Right Whale and Marine Turtles.”
The other three amendments would help protect Florida’s waters, wetlands and conservation and rural lands.
To get on the ballot, initiative petitions must get a minimum number of signatures equal to 8 percent the votes cast in the last presidential election spread out across at least half the state’s congressional districts, which is nearly 900,000 Floridians. Proposed amendments must also pass review by the State Supreme Court.