Weekend Rewind: What to know about Florida's proposed Amendments 3 & 4

Last week I broke down Florida's proposed amendments 3 & 4. In case you missed it...

The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 3 

Bottom Line: This is the third in a twelve-part series covering Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments. Amendments can be confusing enough to understand but furthering the confusion, while there were originally thirteen amendments scheduled for November’s ballot, a court ruling knocked the 8th off of the ballot. For that reason, you’ll see amendments 1 through 7 and 9 through 13. Each proposed amendment requires a minimum of 60% support to pass. Here’s how it will appear on the ballot: 

BALLOT TITLE: Voter Control of Gambling in Florida  

BALLOT SUMMARY: This amendment ensures that Florida voters shall have the exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters pursuant to Article XI, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution. Affects articles X and XI. Defines casino gambling and clarifies that this amendment does not conflict with federal law regarding state/ tribal compacts.  

Got all that? About as clear as mud right? First, it takes all forms of non-lottery gambling (including card games, slots and related gaming) and puts it under the banner of “casino gambling”. It then would strip the state legislature of the power to make decisions about new casinos/gaming in Florida – replacing it with voter decisions over new casinos/gaming establishments in our state. 

Thoughts: I’m not big on intellectual inconsistencies. I think it’s hypocritical that we don’t consider the state lottery to be a form of gambling (nothing about this proposed amendment changes that) or that we view gaming to generally be unacceptable unless it’s on an Indian Reservation. Though I’m not a gambler, I support legalized gambling. The marketing behind Amendment 3 can make it difficult to understand what the implications of your vote would be. The reason this Amendment is being advanced is to make it more difficult to expand gaming in Florida. While I’m not happy with the way state government has handled gaming to date, there’s momentum behind legalized and expanded gaming once the Seminole compact has run its course. For these reasons I’ll be voting no on Amendment 3.

The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 4 

BALLOT TITLE: Voting Restoration Amendment  

BALLOT SUMMARY: This amendment restores the voting rights of Floridians with felony convictions after they complete all terms of their sentence including parole or probation. The amendment would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses, who would continue to be permanently barred from voting unless the Governor and Cabinet vote to restore their voting rights on a case by case basis.  

This is one of the most well-known proposed amendments on the ballot as its passage would restore voting rights to some convicted felons. The amendment would restore voting rights to felons who’ve completed all aspects of their sentence excluding those who’ve committed murder or any form of sexual offense.  

Thoughts: This is one that really comes down to personal preference regarding whether one feels that previous felons should be allowed to vote or not. If you’re parsing details, you might question why there are carve outs for certain types of felons that shouldn’t be able to vote. I come at this question from a different perspective than you’ve likely heard articulated. The five-year recidivism rate for convicted felons is 77%. You never hear that point being discussed. Not-so coincidentally the current law has a five-year waiting period prior to felons being able to request that their rights are restored. There is a point to be made about the subjectivity in the process but neither of these approaches are ideal in my view. If this amendment allowed restoration of voting right after five years, I’d support it. It doesn’t, instead it would allow restoration to all felons, 77% of which will be future felons. For that reason, I’ll be voting no on amendment 4.  

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