Our Thoughts On The Four State Constitutional Amendments

When voters head to the polls to vote in the Nov. 8 general election, they will be greeted by four statewide constitutional amendments to consider. Two were placed there by outside groups, and two by the Florida Legislature. Each question will need at least 60 percent of the vote in order to become part of the state constitution. Here are our thoughts pertaining to the four questions. Additional information, including the ballot language, can be found in a news story starting this week.


Amendment 1, known as the “Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice,” is a constitutional amendment that would give Florida residents the constitutional right to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use. Except, under Florida’s current law, residents already have that right, although not specifically as a constitutional right.

The second half of the Amendment 1 ballot question contains language that experts believe would open the door for further regulation of solar power installations and make it easier for power companies and state agencies to add fees for the use of solar equipment. And we’re a bit skeptical when power companies, such as Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light and the Tampa Electric Company, are in favor of and financially backing a proposal that supposedly promotes solar power when these same companies have blocked personal use solar growth in the past.

The Town-Crier suggests a NO vote on the Solar Energy ballot question.


In 2014, voters cast ballots on a similar proposal to legalize the use of medical marijuana to relieve the symptoms of individuals afflicted with specific conditions and diseases. While it received 57 percent of the vote, that was just short of the 60 percent approval threshold.

So, here we are again. The 2016 proposal differs slightly from the 2014 version, providing more specifics about what constitutes a “debilitating medical condition.” It also permits caregivers to administer marijuana treatments and sets up regulatory guidelines to be administered by the Florida Department of Health. The state passed legislation earlier this year allowing terminally ill patients to receive prescriptions for full-strength marijuana. We think this was a good move, and this constitutional amendment would bring Florida more in line with the rest of the nation.

The Town-Crier suggests a YES vote on the Medical Marijuana ballot question.


The state constitution already grants a property tax exemption to spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty. If passed, Amendment 3 would extend this exemption to first responders who are “totally and permanently disabled” from injuries they receive in the line of duty.

Under existing law, “first responders” are police and correctional officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians. Both houses of the state legislature approved putting this on the ballot unanimously, in a rare and wonderful show of bipartisanship. We, too, believe that it’s a good idea.

The Town-Crier suggests a YES vote on the Disabled First Responders ballot question.


Four years ago, voters gave their blessing to a similar proposal, which allowed municipalities to grant full exemption from property taxes if the homeowner was at least 65 years old, his or her annual household income didn’t exceed $28,448, the just market value of the property was under $250,000 and the homeowner had lived there at least 25 years. However, under the current law, should the home value rise above $250,000, the exemption would be lost.

Amendment 5 places a hard lock on the law, exempting low-income seniors from property taxes, regardless of how much the property value increases. If passed, the amendment is retroactive to 2013.

The Town-Crier suggests a YES vote on the Low-Income Seniors Homestead Exemption ballot question.