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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — This election many people have made up their mind who they are going to vote for president but what about the amendments. Do you even know what they are?
CBS4’s David Sutta takes a closer look at what you are voting on so you can make an informed decision.
In 2012, your ballot contained pages and pages of amendments. Thankfully this year that’s not the case. In some areas you’ll be able to count them on one hand and here’s what’s up for grabs.
Amendment 1 is about solar power. It says three things:
- You have the right to own solar equipment in your home.
- The state should protect you from fraud.
- Whether you have solar or not, everyone will pay their fair share.
Alissa Jean Schafer with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says the amendment is very misleading.
“On its face, it sounds like it’s a pro-solar amendment but it’s actually not. Amendment 1 is actually bad for consumers. It’s bad for Floridians. The main reason is it’s being completely funded by the utilities and special interest in order to protect their monopoly,” she said.
It turns out that almost every solar company and supporter is against Amendment 1. So who’s supporting it? Florida’s utility companies. They have spent more than $21 million dollars in support of it. They argue solar consumers are using less and less of the electrical grid and paying less in fees but the grid still needs to be maintained and improved.
So who picks up that tab?
“What do the utility companies have to do? They are going to have to raise rates and they are going to have to raise rates on people who can’t afford it or just chose not to do solar. That’s not fair. That’s not what we want to do,” said Screven Watson with Consumers for Smart Solar.
The bottom line is this amendment would pave the way for a fee to be added to solar customers’ utility bills.
Amendment 2 is about medical marijuana. Yes, you voted on this in 2014. The measure narrowly lost but supporters are hoping the second time is a charm.
If the amendment passes you could expect:
- Patients with Cancer, Parkinson’s, MS, ALS, AIDS, and PTSD to be eligible to use marijuana.
- Doctors would be allowed to prescribe marijuana within nine months.
- The state would regulate shops selling marijuana. Early estimates show there could be as many as 2,000 of them.
Critics point out today’s marijuana contains alarming THC levels – 10 times more potent than that of the flower power days.
“It’s frightening really to think that they are trying to legalize this under the guise of medicine, which it is not, and putting our children and our communities at risk,” said Dr. Jessica Spencer, who works with the No On 2 Campaign.
Supporters argue it will be well-regulated and patients who need the medicine will finally get some relief.
“This issue is just moving really quickly in the court of public opinion,” said Ben Pollera with United for Care.
Amendment 3 has to do with property tax exemptions for disabled first responders.
First responders who become totally disabled while in the line of duty would no longer have to pay property taxes. Currently this exemption is only applicable to spouses of first responders or military killed in the line of duty.
In August, Florida voters passed Amendment 4. This allows you to not have to pay property taxes on solar panels. In essence when you add solar power to your home, the value of your home increases. This amendment maintains you will not be assessed for that increase.
Amendment 5 contains property tax exemptions for senior citizens. They would be able to lock in their property taxes for life at a maximum value of your $250,000.
To qualify you must:
- Be 65 or older
- Have lived in your home for at least 25 years
- Have a home currently worth less than $250,000
- Must make less than $20,000 a year
The impact to the state ranges from $1 million to $5 million in lost tax revenue.
Broward County voters will get to decide whether they want to pay a penny more in sales tax. The increase from 6% to 7% would provide a half a percent to county transportation projects, the other half a percent goes to Broward’s 31 cities who have long wish lists. To see how your city would use the money, click here.
Genetically Modified Mosquitoes
The Florida Keys will vote on genetically modified mosquitoes. Earlier this year, the FDA approved a trial to release the modified mosquitoes in Key Haven, which is just North of Key West. The genetically mosquitoes mate with the local population. Their offspring does not live to become adults. While the measure has been proven in the Cayman Islands and Brazil, this would be the first trial in the United States.
The vote is non-binding meaning it’s just a gauge of public opinion. The Monroe County mosquito control board ultimately will decide on the issue, once the public has spoken.
Click here to read more about Campaign 2016.
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