Thoughts on proposed amendments to the state’s Constitution

This November voters will be asked to decide if three proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution will be passed.

A short note about the procedure: Several years ago voters approved an amendment to the Florida Constitution requiring 60 percent voter approval of a proposed amendment as opposed to the longstanding requirement of a majority (50 percent plus one). Additionally, voters should understand that there are two ways an amendment to the state’s Constitution can make it to the ballot for voter consideration:

The Florida Legislature can place an amendment on the ballot for voter consideration or Florida’s registered voters, by petition, can place an amendment on the ballot for voter consideration.

No. 1: ‘WATER AND LAND CONSERVATION, DEDICATES FUNDS TO ACQUIRE AND RESTORE FLORIDA CONSERVATION AND RECREATIONAL LANDS.” (Placed on the ballot by voter petition.)

Historically a portion of the state budget goes to the acquisition, conservation and development of public owned and state acquisitions of lands. Legislatures in the past have diverted funds so designated to meet other budget needs often neglecting our growing population’s need for watershed restoration such as the Everglades. This amendment takes the optional use of state funds for such uses and makes it mandatory. I strongly recommend a “YES” vote.

No. 2: “USE OF MARIJUANA FOR CERTAIN MEDICAL CONDITIONS,” (Placed on the ballot by voter petition.)

The use of marijuana falls into two classifications: Recreational and Medical. This November we will be asked to approve, or reject, the growth and distribution of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions. It would appear that there is a legitimate support for medical treatment.

Prestigious university studies, doctors and those currently using medical marijuana support its benefits. My only concern is that our legislature shows sufficient backbone in controlling its growth and distribution so we do not end up the laughing stock of the nation as we experienced with our Florida pill mill fiasco. I recommend a “YES” vote.

However, it is incumbent upon us to make sure our elected officials do the right thing and pass laws that tightly regulate its distribution. Call, write, email or text your representatives in Tallahassee and tell them how you feel.

No. 3: “PROSPECTIVE APPOINTMENT OF CERTAIN JUDICIAL VACANCIES).” (Placed on the ballot by the legislature.)

This seems to be the least discussed of the three proposals notwithstanding that it is, in my opinion, the most controversial. The proposal is designed to permit a governor leaving office to appoint to certain judicial positions, judges, including the Supreme Court judges, who will not retire until sometime during the next governor’s term.

This is a way to protect the political philosophy of a departing governor long into the term of the succeeding governor. Especially a big item when an incoming governor is of a different political party from the governor leaving office.

Every governor, Democrat or Republican, should have the privilege of filling judicial vacancies with judges who share their particular political leaning. However, to make an appointment to fill a vacancy that will not take place until the next governor is in office is preposterous. I recommend a “NO” vote.

ON THE SUBJECT OF VOTING
Election after election we hear the cry: “Get out and vote.” It seems the cry to vote is falling on deaf ears. Perhaps we need a more ground level approach. Let’s all pledge that this November when we vote we take with us one friend, relative or business associate who complains about government but does not vote. Remind them that in Afghanistan, notwithstanding the Taliban’s death threats, a little over 60 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in their last election.

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to Kenneth.Bluh@ColumbusCL.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper, its editors or publisher.


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About the Author

Kenneth Bluh
Kenneth has been writing a column for Community Newspapers since 1989 when he first wrote about the incorporation movement in UMSA (Unincorporated Municipal Services Area). His columns cover the political scene in Miami-Dade and Tallahassee. Educated at the Wharton School in Philadelphia, Kenneth has been a member of the banking/mortgage lending profession in Florida since 1962. Contact him at kbluh@americanbsm.com or 786-247-0547 where he manages American Bancshares Mortgage LLC’s Reverse Mortgage Department.

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