Analysis and Opinion
From the League of Women Voters
Editor’s Note: This is a 12-day series that looks at each amenement the League of Women Voters analyzed and made a recommendation. Today their analysis and recommendation is on Amendment 7.
From the League of Women Voters
Amendment 7: Oppose
Creates a supermajority requirement for universities to impose new or increase existing student fees; enshrines in the Constitution guidelines for the State College System; mandates that employers or the state pay a death benefit to first responders and members of the military killed in the line of duty.
We oppose a supermajority vote to increase fees or taxes. Family members of the military who die in the line of service are already compensated through the federal government.
Full Summary: This question has three parts.
- The first issue is a new requirement for supermajority votes when universities want to increase student fees or impose new ones (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here). Currently, a board of trustees overseeing a university needs a simple majority of its 13 members to increase student fees or add new ones. That request then needs approval from a majority of the state’s 17-member Board of Governors. Under this proposal, nine of the university’s 13 trustees must vote in favor, and 12 of the 17 members of the Board of Governors must approve the university’s request. This proposal does not address tuition, just fees such as those universities charge students to pay for athletics, health, and transportation.
- The second part of this question would add a new section to the Constitution addressing the State College System, which includes Florida’s 28 institutions formerly known as community colleges (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here). While the Constitution currently addresses the responsibilities of school districts and universities, it is silent on state colleges. The additional language proposed in this section of the amendment includes a broad statement of purpose for the colleges, including offering bachelor’s degrees, as well as the role of each school’s board of trustees and the state Board of Education, which oversees the state college system.
The final part of this question creates a constitutional requirement for governments to pay death benefits when first responders they employ, or members of the military, are killed in the course of their duties (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here). Florida law already provides those benefits to survivors of law enforcement officers, corrections officers, firefighters and members of the National Guard. Those benefits include monetary payments to survivors, as well as waivers for educational costs. This amendment would provide a new constitutional guarantee of those benefits and would add paramedics, emergency medical technicians and members of the U.S. military who are residents of Florida or stationed here. The amount of the payments will be determined by the state Legislature. An analysis by the state Department of Management Services could not determine how much the additional military benefits would cost but noted that Florida has more than 90,000 men and women on active duty or in the reserves. If the amendment is approved, this part would take effect on July 1, 2019.