Florida Constitution

A proposed change to the state Constitution that would alter the way Floridians get their electricity came before the state Supreme Court Wednesday. The amendment needs the justices' blessings before it can get on next year's ballot.

AP

Siding with the Florida Retail Federation and upholding the constitutionality of state laws, an appeals court Wednesday rejected a 2016 move by the city of Coral Gables to ban the use of Styrofoam food containers.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned a ruling by a Miami-Dade County circuit judge who found three state laws unconstitutional and determined Coral Gables was not prevented from enacting the Styrofoam ban.

Columbia City Blog /Flickr

With state lawmakers also considering the idea, a political committee has filed a proposed ballot measure that could make it harder to amend the Florida Constitution.

A committee known as Keep Our Constitution Clean PC filed the proposal last week at the state Division of Elections.

Under it, passage of proposed constitutional amendments would require support from two-thirds of voters, up from the current 60 percent.

B Breland Photograhy/flickr

Now that Florida voters have approved Amendment 13 – which effectively ends greyhound racing statewide by December 31, 2020  – thousands of dogs will need new homes.

But that doesn’t mean Florida dog lovers should be running to the nearest track any time soon in hopes of adopting a greyhound overnight.

For one thing, greyhound groups across the state admit that they don’t have an accurate count of exactly how many dogs will become available during the two-year phase-out of racing mandated by the amendment.

Floridians have approved Amendment 13 – meaning gambling on live greyhound racing will be phased out by 2020. That could leave many dogs looking for new homes.

AL DIAZ / MIAMI HERALD

In a major win for the politically powerful Florida Sheriff’s Association, the largest law enforcement agency in the state of Florida will soon be led by an elected sheriff, thanks to the passage of Amendment 10.

Currently, the Miami-Dade County Police Department is headed by a police chief, who is appointed by the county mayor.

WLRN

A constitutional amendment that would restore the right for  former felons to vote in Florida passed.

Amendment 4 needed at least 60 percent of votes to pass.

People with felony convictions who complete their sentence and the terms of their release will now automatically have their voting rights restored. 

Florida has never had an automatic restoration process, though many say under Gov. Rick Scott’s administration the steps to have voting right restored grew even more restrictive.

The first of 12 amendments Florida voters will see on the ballot November 6th might seem like a straightforward proposal. But the facts around Amendment 1 aren't that simple.

Nadege Green / WLRN

Florida is one of the strictest states when it comes to restoring the right to vote for people with felony convictions.

Former felons do not automatically get the right to vote back after they’ve served their time. That's  1.5 million Floridians who cannot vote.

Amendment 4 would automatically restore the right to vote for former felons except for people with murder or sex crime convictions.

It has wide bipartisan support and very little organized opposition, though some candidates have stated they are not in support of an automatic restoration process.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Buried deep in the War-and-Peace-length tome that is this November's Florida ballot, voters will find a question asking if a ban on offshore drilling and a ban on vaping should be codified in the state constitution.

Yup, Amendment 9 is the bundled amendment bringing together e-cigarettes and oil rigs.

In its own words:

NO. 9

CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION

Article II, Section 7

Article X, Section 20

Emily Michot / Miami Herald

As voters across Florida gear up for early voting for the November elections, and as some ballots have already been shipped out to overseas voters, one question is being repeated over dinner tables and text message chains: “How should I vote on this amendment that is asking me three different questions at the same time?”

Columbia City Blog /Flickr

Though one justice wrote that voters should “beware,” the Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a challenge to three proposed constitutional amendments on the November ballot --- including a measure that seeks to ban offshore oil drilling and vaping in workplaces.

Justices overturned a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers that would have blocked the constitutional amendments in a case focused on whether the proposals improperly “bundled” unrelated issues into single ballot measures.

Miami Herald

South Florida voters will need to do some homework before heading to the ballot box in the upcoming November general election. Some voters may have more than one page of items and races to vote on. That includes 12 amendment items to be considered for inclusion in the state constitution.

Some of those amendments are actually more than one item that had to be bundled together as to not have too many items on the ballot. A couple of those are being challenged in court.

Lily Oppenheimer / WLRN

The last thing senior paralegal Karen Leicht ever imagined was that she would serve three years in prison for a felony charge.

“It is a huge skeleton in the closet,” Leicht said after speaking on a panel organized by  the Greater Miami Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Miami branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and a group of public defenders at the Palmetto Bay public library on Sunday.

MIKE MOZART / FLICKR

Arguing that the measures would violate First Amendment rights, an attorney for two plaintiffs urged the Florida Supreme Court  to uphold a lower-court ruling that would block three proposed constitutional amendments from going before voters in November. 

Attorney Joseph Little filed a 50-page brief last Friday after Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office last week requested that the Supreme Court allow the ballot measures to move forward.

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