Constitutional Amendments Warrant Close Look

Article excerpt

Byline: Ronald L. Littlepage, Times-Union columnist

Today, we're going to examine an emerging sex scandal at City Hall.

Actually, I'm writing about the proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 5 ballot, but I wanted readers to make it to at least the second paragraph before skipping to the Sports section.

If you're still with me, read on because the amendments are serious stuff, except for a couple of silly ones.

There will be 10 of them on the ballot. The numbering, however, will skip from No. 4 to No. 6 because No. 5, which would have mandated a review of sales tax exemptions, was thrown off the ballot by the state Supreme Court.

All of the people complaining that citizen groups are cluttering up the state constitution with pet issues should take note that five of the 10 amendments were put on the ballot by the Legislature.

The Legislature isn't required to write succinctly in wording its ballot questions, as citizen groups are, which is why the first amendment you'll find on the ballot, Amendment No. 1, approaches War and Peace in length.

Don't let the sea of words keep you from moving on to the other amendments.

In a nutshell, the purpose of Amendment No. 1 is to ensure that the death penalty remains a valid form of punishment in Florida. Those who are against the death penalty would do well to vote no on this one.

Amendment No. 2, also placed on the ballot by the Legislature, would require that the economic impact of constitutional amendments be included on the ballot. This, of course, became an issue after voters approved mandating a high-speed train system for the state during the 2000 election. Opponents argue that if voters had known the system would cost billions of dollars, they would have rejected it.

The debate carried over to this year with arguments about the cost of the proposed amendment that would limit class sizes in the state's public schools. …