Courts remove 4 Florida ballot questions, restore 2 others
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — In a whirlwind of rulings, the Florida Supreme Court on Friday said voters can decide whether to ban greyhound racing and to give crime victims additional rights, but stripped a ballot question that would have made it easier to set up charter schools.
Meanwhile a Leon County Circuit judge ordered three proposed constitutional amendments off the ballot because she said they combined ideas that should have been separated for voters.
The proposed constitutional amendment taken off the ballot by the state Supreme Court would have made it easier to set up charter schools. Amendment 8 would have combined several ideas into one amendment including instituting term limits for school board members. It also would have allowed charter schools to set up around the state without approval by local school boards.
The Supreme Court overturned lower court decisions that removed the proposed dog racing ban and what’s known as Marsy’s Law from the ballot. The Marsy’s Law question spells out rights that crime victims have to have their voices heard during criminal proceedings, be notified of the custody status of defendants and have a say in any plea agreements prosecutors seek. It also attempts to protect victims from harassment by defendants and to keep personal information private.
Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers ruled late Wednesday to strike three questions from the ballot. Attorney General Pam Bondi quickly appealed the decision.
Amendment 7 would have provided free state university tuition for the spouses and children of first responders who die on the job, but it also would require a supermajority vote before university boards of trustees could raise fees. Gievers said those were two separate issues.
Likewise, Amendment 9 would ban oil drilling in state waters, but it also would ban vaping in the same indoor workplaces where smoking is now banned.
Amendment 11 would have removed language deemed obsolete from three current articles in the state constitution.
Bondi’s appeal keeps the questions on the ballot for now. The rulings come as supervisors of elections are preparing ballots for the Nov. 6 election.
The four ballot questions removed from the two courts were proposals approved by the state’s Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years to proposed changes to the constitution.
Any constitutional amendment needs approval from 60 percent of voters in order to pass.