Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Simply Vote No on the Amendments

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Simply Vote No on the Amendments

Article excerpt

Voters should exercise extreme caution when considering the 11 proposed amendments to Florida's Constitution on Nov. 6.

Most are of dubious value. Most address topics that shouldn't be in the constitution, which has grown to 54 pages long since it was drafted in 1838.

A true conservative would be far more cautious about amending the state's basic document. Fortunately, a 2006 vote requires 60 percent approval of amendments.

Given the length of the ballot, voters are advised to vote early if possible and to make decisions about proposed amendments prior to entering the voting booth. Voters can speed up their time in the booth and make the best choice by simply voting no on all of the amendments.

Here is a look at Amendments 1, 5, 6, 8 and 12. Tomorrow we will comment on the rest.

Amendment 1: Health Care Services. The amendment would prohibit laws that would force anyone to buy health insurance, prohibit charging anyone a tax or penalty for direct purchases of health care services and provide that the private health care market cannot be abolished.

Introduced largely in response to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, this amendment was made irrelevant when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled health insurance mandates constitutional.

Recommendation: Vote no.

Amendment 5: State Courts. Approved by the Legislature along party lines, this would require Senate confirmation of justices of the Supreme Court, who now take office upon appointment by the governor from a list proposed by a judicial nominating commission.

It would make it easier for the Legislature to repeal court rules by changing the two-thirds vote to a simple majority. It would allow the speaker of the House expanded access to confidential files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission about judges accused of misconduct.

This would erode the separation of powers by taking power away from both the judicial branch and the governor.

Recommendation: Vote no.

Amendment 6: Abortions. Both federal and state law prohibit spending public money for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother, but this would enshrine that prohibition in the state constitution.

The amendment also provides that the state constitution may not be interpreted to be broader than the U.S. Constitution.

For example, a Florida parental consent law and ruled unconstitutional by state judges likely would be deemed constitutional if Florida's constitutional provision for right to privacy was narrowed to be consistent with the federal Constitution.

Advocates say this would make Florida more consistent with federal provisions. Opponents say it would pave the way to more restrictive abortion rights.

This requires far more debate than it has received.

Recommendation: Vote no. …

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