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 3
Our board examined every amendment that voters will decide on and determined positions on each. We weighed already established League positions heavily in our decisions.
The Supreme Court has removed Amendment 8 from the November 2018 Ballot, upholding the decision by a lower court that Amendment 8 misled voters by not clearly stating its true purpose and never mentioning charter schools by name. The Court approved three other appealed amendments, 6, 10 and 13. They will stay on the ballot.
Twelve proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution remain on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot, 8 more than appeared on the 2016 ballot.
However, voters face more questions than is apparent.
That’s because Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years, is allowed by law to bundle more than one issue into each question. This practice, also known as “logrolling,” is prohibited when amendments are placed on the ballot by citizen initiative or by the Florida Legislature. Those amendments must contain just one distinct question. To learn more about the 2017/18 CRC, click here.
In 1978, the first CRC proposed eight amendments, at least half of which had multiple questions. All were defeated by voters. Twenty years later, in 1998, the CRC proposed nine amendments, all of which had multiple questions. All but one passed.
An example of the CRC’s issue bundling in 2018 is Amendment 9, which asks voters to decide whether to ban offshore oil drilling, and whether to ban e-cigarettes at workplaces. Like the CRC’s other bundled amendments, voters cannot cast separate votes on drilling and vaping. These are all-or-nothing propositions.
Of the 12 amendments on this year’s ballot, eight were proposed by the CRC, three by the Florida Legislature and two by citizen initiative. To pass, each of them must receive at least 60 percent approval by voters. This is the first time that constitutional amendments proposed by a CRC have faced the 60-percent hurdle, which voters approved in 2006. Before then, amendments just needed a simple majority for approval. Unless otherwise indicated, changes to the Constitution take effect on Jan. 8, 2019.
Amendment 3 – Support
Requires approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen-initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Legislature from making those gambling decisions by passing laws.
This amendment would require a constitutional amendment, through a citizen initiative only, for any new casino gambling in Florida. A citizen initiative is the process where signatures are gathered to place an amendment on the ballot.
Amendment 3 would effectively stop the Legislature from either passing laws to allow casino gambling or placing its own casino amendments on the ballot. It also would preclude the CRC, which meets every 20 years, from putting casino amendments on the ballot.
If this amendment is approved, for example, a gambling company that wanted to open new casinos in Florida would have to get hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, then mount an expensive statewide campaign and get approval from 60 percent of voters.
Amendment 3 defines casino gambling as games such as slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps and keno, as well as an array of electronic and video games of chance.
Under current law, the Legislature could vote to approve new casinos with a simple majority, although such legislative efforts in recent years – including this year – have mostly failed.
The amendment doesn’t change the Legislature’s authority over dog- and horse-racing, the Lottery or fantasy sports. Nor does it affect casinos owned and operated by Native-American tribes. It also doesn’t hinder the state from taxing or regulating any type of gambling, including casinos.
Various iterations of constitutional amendments to approve casinos appeared on the ballot in 1978, 1986 and 1994, each of them defeated. In 2004, voters narrowly approved an amendment allowing slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities – dog- and horse-racing tracks – in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
If the casino amendment on November’s ballot is approved, it will take effect immediately.