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Cover Story

The Amendments

Our guide to the confusing mess of constitutional amendments appearing on your ballot

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

Deciding who you want to support for president is hard enough with all the misleading garbage the campaigns and political parties are throwing at you. But then the state goes and makes it that much harder by loading your ballot down with 11 (!) complicated, messy and controversial ballot amendments loaded with buzzwords that prey on your emotions: senior citizens, widows, disabled veterans, property taxes. All of the amendments sound like they're trying to do worthwhile things, like help old people or promote religious freedom. But, as always, you gotta read the fine print. We did, and we suggest you do, too. We've examined each of the amendments on the ballot,
summarized them and simplified the arguments for and against them. Then we've thrown our 2 cents in for good measure (because we just can't help ourselves).

In case you were wondering – or if you just want to cut to the chase – when we go to the polls, we'll be voting no on all of the amendments appearing on the ballot. Read on to find out why.

Amendment 1
Health care services

What it says: This amendment would prohibit the state from requiring that individuals, businesses or health-care providers be part of a larger health-insurance program; it would also prohibit state from implementing fines for those who do not take part.

What proponents say: In addition to blocking the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, this amendment sends a signal to the federal government that Florida cares about the states' rights laid out in Amendment 10 of the U.S. Constitution. Supporters believe that ACA is an infringement on personal and professional liberties.

What opponents say: The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the ACA is Constitutional, so this attempt to symbolically denounce healthcare carries no legislative weight. Should the amendment pass, it could hamper future state health care reforms, especially if the ACA is repealed.

What we say: This amendment represents a pathetic grudge match, and it's a waste of time. A similar attempt in 2010 was knocked off the ballot by state courts for containing caustic, misleading language. Republicans, like authors state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, scrubbed it and are presenting effectively the same bill, only with even less merit since the Supreme Court decision ruled the ACA Constitutional.

Amendment 2
Veterans disabled due to combat injury; homestead property tax discount

What it says: This amendment would allow disabled veterans who weren't Florida residents before entering the military to qualify for property-tax discounts.

What proponents say: This program is a benevolent attempt to lend combat-disabled veterans a helping hand. It might even help stimulate the housing market by encouraging veterans to relocate here.

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