|We are just beyond the halfway point of the 2018 Legislative Session. The appropriations bills and various policy bills have been moving through committees these past few weeks. Here is an update on some of the latest actions of legislation, the budget, the Constitutional Revision Commission and other items of interest.
The Senate and House passed their respective budget proposals for FY2018-2019 last week. Both budgets are approximately $4 billion over the current year’s total and are almost the same, at $87.3 billion in the Senate and $87.2 billion in the House. While only $100 million apart, there are significant differences in priorities. One major issue is the House’s move to link the passage of a bill providing $8.3 billion in public school funding to their appropriations bills. President Joe Negron (R-Palm City) has stated that while his members may support some of the education proposals, his chamber would not tie the budget to an education, or any other, policy bill. With less than a month left in the 2018 Session, budget conferences will have to work out their differences if they intend to end session on time.
CONSTITUTIONAL REVISION COMMISSION
Tasked every 20 years with reviewing Florida’s Constitution and recommending changes, the Constitutional Revision Commission has been meeting over the past several weeks in Tallahassee to debate 103 propositions. The Commission has passed 37 proposals out of their committees and rejected 27. Thirty proposals were withdrawn, and will not be considered again. Another nine so-called “shell” proposals that pertain to general areas like education or local government, are pending in the committees. Those measures could be advanced to the floor, where they could be amended with specific proposals. The proposals that pass the full Commission will be placed on the November 2018 ballot. To review these proposals, go here.
The Commission is hosting hearings around the state to receive input from the public. They began on February 6th in Fort Lauderdale, where approximately 700 Floridians attended, and will continue in Melbourne on February 19th, Jacksonville on February 20th, Pensacola on February 27th, and St. Petersburg on March 13th. Details about the meeting locations may be found here. Additionally, The Florida Channel has a page dedicated to the CRC meeting videos.
Four proposals will be on the November 2018 ballot; two by a Legislative Joint Resolution in 2017 and two that garnered enough signatures from citizens and subsequently were certified by the Florida Supreme Court.
Amendment 1, the Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption, was brought to the ballot as a Joint Resolution during the 2017 session and would increase a residential home’s property tax exemption amount.
Amendment 2, titled the Limitations on Property Tax Assessments, is also a Joint Resolution which would permanently cap the non-homestead parcel assessments.
Amendment 3, addressing Voter Control of Gambling in Florida, will ask voters to determine if they should have the exclusive right to authorize casino gambling through citizen-initiated ballot measures.
Amendment 4, the Voting Restoration Amendment, will consider whether felons can have the right to vote upon completion of their sentences.