VIDEO: Florida Supreme Court Steals Family’s Property

American’s for Prosperity – Florida released the second video in their You Be the Judge project. It tells the story of the Koontzs, a central Florida family that has been fighting for their property rights for more than 18 years!

In 2011, the Florida Supreme Court invalidated a number of lower court decisions that stated the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) had effectively stolen private property from the Koontz’s.  The family was awarded $367,000 in damages but the Supreme Court overturned that ruling saying that it could cause government regulation to cost too much.

The video focuses on the 2011 case of SJRWMD v Koontz in which the court invalidated a number of lower court decisions that stated the St. Johns River Water Management District had effectively stolen private property from the Koontz’s.

This is another example of the Florida Supreme Courts willingness to base their decision on the potential policy effects rather than on core fundamental rights. The Courts bias for a heavy-handed government won out against the rights of a private citizen.

The judiciary must remain independent and impartial, but in order for that to happen citizens must be knowledgeable about the Courts decisions and voice their concerns when the court oversteps their authority.

The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Koontz case. For more information visit www.YouBeTheJudgeFL.com.

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Officers of the Court Using Government Computers for Political Gain

There is growing evidence that State Attorneys and Judges in Florida are using government computers for personal or political gain.

Florida has “Sunshine Laws”. According to the Florida Attorney General’s Government Under the Sunshine website:

Florida began its tradition of openness back in 1909 with the passage of Chapter 119 of the Florida Statutes or the ‘Public Records Law’. Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law was enacted in 1967. These statutes establish a basic right of access to most meetings of boards, commissions and other governing bodies of state and local governmental agencies or authorities.”

According to the Attorney General, “The definition of what constitutes ‘public records’ has come to include not just traditional written documents such as papers, maps and books, but also tapes, photographs, film, sound recordings and records stored in computers.” Chapter 286 of the Florida Statues gives the public basic rights to access to public records.

Recently public records requests have exposed Judges and State Attorneys using government computers for personal or political gain.

The Tampa Bay Times in an August 22, 2012 column on The Buzz reports, “State Attorney Robert ‘Skip’’ Jarvis of Live Oak [FL] has reached an agreement that will allow him to avoid prosecution for using law enforcement databases to research his political opponents and others.”

The Tampa Bay Times column notes, “The investigation of Jarvis began earlier this year when San Fillipo, a former assistant for Jarvis, complained to FDLE that his former boss had improperly researched state and federal records concerning his wife. Details of the investigation were included in a report King submitted to the governor’s office. FDLE agents determined that Jarvis had also conducted other searches that appeared to be improper, including a search of records relating to the wife of his Republican opponent.”

On April 12, 2012 Mr. Joel Chandler, a citizen, filed a public records request involving State Attorney Edward Brodsky, who serves as Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 12th Judicial Circuit. After a number of communications between Chandler and Brodsky a lawsuit was filed seeking over 300 emails that Brodsky has not released. According to the lawsuit, “This is an action seeking a writ of mandamus and declaratory relief for a violation of the Florida Public Records Act by Eduardo Brodsky, Chief Assistant State Attorney for the Twelfth Judicial Circuit.  Plaintiff contends that Mr. Brodsky has unlawfully refused to produce public records in his possession to which no valid exemption applies.”

The lawsuit states, “Based  on information and belief, included  within the  364 pages of material withheld are public records to  which  no valid  exemption  applies. Review of other records obtained from other sources indicates that items included in the withheld material are records relating to official government business. Mr. Brodsky utilized his governmental e-mail address to conduct substantial governmental business, including the e-mail records sought here.”

Watchdog Wire previously reported on the use of 12th Circuit Court computers, including emails exchanges between Brodsky and Judge Janette Dunnigan, were used to coordinate a fund raising event for the Brodsky campaign. The email violates Canon 7 of the Judicial Code of Ethics and it is a crime under Florida Statutes. Cannon 7 states all judges shall not “publicly endorse or publicly oppose another candidate for public office.”

A concern among citizens is when requesting public records for officers of the court, the determination of what is and is not a public record is determined after the fact. 

According to Dennis Menendez, Chief Information Officer for the 12th Circuit, the email from Judge Dunnigan, “was previously reviewed for another public records request and was determined to be a private email not subject to public disclosure pursuant to Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.420(c) and case law.  See State v. City of Clearwater, 863 So. 2d 149 (Fla. 2003) and In re Amendments to Rule of Judicial Administration 2.051-Public Access to Judicial Records, 651 So. 2d 1185 (Fla. 1995).”

When a public records request is made it is then that the officer of the court determines whether it is private or public. For most citizens the use of any government computer during working hours would constitute public use and must therefore be open to Florida’s Sunshine Laws.

It appears officers of the court live by a different set of rules.

A citizen went to both the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office for the 12th Circuit to file criminal charges against Judge Dunnigan. Both offices refused to take the complaint. The citizen believes there is probable cause that Florida Statute 104.31 was violated by Judge Dunnigan. FS 104.31 states in part:

No officer or employee of the state, or of any county or municipality thereof, except as hereinafter exempted from provisions hereof, shall:

(a) Use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with an election or a nomination of office or coercing or influencing another person’s vote or affecting the result thereof.

(b) Directly or indirectly coerce or attempt to coerce, command, or advise any other officer or employee to pay, lend, or contribute any part of his or her salary, or any money, or anything else of value to any party, committee, organization, agency, or person for political purposes.

Florida Statute 106.15(4) – makes it a crime to use state property (email server, computer) for campaign purposes. Florida Statute 104.31 – makes it a crime for a state employee to participate in campaign activities while on duty (this email was sent on a date and time when Dunnigan was working on duty as a Judge.

The Florida judicial system appears to protect rather than prosecute its members under Florida’s Sunshine Laws. Perhaps it is time for Governor Rick Scott to appoint a State Attorney to investigate the case of Judge Dunnigan, as he did in the case of Mr. Jarvis?

Suppressing the Military Vote

Many decry any attempt to suppress legal voters from voting legally. John Fund and Hans Von Spakovsky in their book “Who’s Counting: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote At Risk” found one group that is being supressed – active duty military voters. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA), requires the Federal Voting Assistance Program (a Department of Defense Program) to administer UOCAVA, and requires the Justice Department to enforce it.

According to Fund and Spakovsky there are two primary reasons for military voter disenfranchisement. The first is the “transitory life of a member of the military and delays associated with delivering absentee ballots to remote locations”. The second is “[T]he Pentagon’s failure to provide military voters with timely registration and voting assistance, and the Justice Department’s failure to properly enforce the 1986 federal law guaranteeing the right of overseas civilians and members of the military to vote by absentee ballot”. [My emphasis]

Fund and Spakovsky report:

  • The estimated military voter turn out in 2008 was approximately 30 percent while the overall voting-eligible population turn out was almost 62 percent.
  • In 2006, only 22 percent of nearly 2.6 million military voters cast ballots, compared to 41 percent of the general voting-age population.
  • The Election Assistance Commission found that only 16.5 percent of an estimated six million eligible military and overseas civilian voters requested an absentee ballot, and only 5.5 percent of the ballots were returned and counted.
  • Data from 24 states on the 2010 election shows that only 4.6 percent of eligible military voters cast an absentee ballot that was actually counted.

According to Sarasota County Florida Supervisor Kathy Dent, “States transmitted nearly 1 million ballots to UOCAVA-covered voters (48.6% to military and 37.9% to civilian overseas). Of the ballots transmitted 69% (682,341) were returned and submitted for counting. States reported counting 637,216 UOCAVA ballots or 93.6% of the total submitted for counting. Supervisor Dent notes, “We won’t have information on 2012 General election until January/February 2013.”

Getting absentee ballots to the military and returning them to the states is critical to having them counted. Fund and Spakovsky state, “One of the most significant problems with UOCAVA is that it does not specify when states are required to mail absentee ballots”.

The Election Assistance Commission and others have found that overseas military and civilians absentee ballots must be sent out “at least 45 days before a state’s deadline.” Fund and Spakovsky report, “The Pentagon is required to use expedited mail service to ensure overseas military ballots are returned by Election Day.” However, “due to pressure from its unions, the U.S. Postal Service was made the exclusive carrier for this expedited mail service, rather than allowing competitive bids from private carriers such as Federal Express or DHL . . . Yet nearly one-third of states refuse to follow the 45-day standard, and at least 10 states gave military voters less than 35 days to receive, cast, and return their ballots,” state Fund and Spakovsky.

Florida Statue Section 101.62 requires all UOCAVA absentee ballots to be mailed not later than 45 days prior to an election. If the mailing date falls on a holiday or weekend then the absentee ballots are mailed the prior business day.

An inquiry was sent to Kathy Dent, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections. Suzanne MacFarlane, Absentee Ballot Coordinator for the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, reports that in Florida during the 2008 General election:

Total UOCAVA absentee ballots transmitted was 121,395 (Military Stateside & Overseas & Citizens Overseas)

Total UOCAVA absentee ballots transmitted to Uniformed Services only was 86,926.

Total UOCAVA absentee ballots returned and counted for Uniformed Services was 66,007 (54%).

The high rates of return and counted ballots may be attributed to the Florida statue requiring mailing not later than 45 days prior to the election.

In 2009 Congress amended UOCAVA requiring states to send absentee ballots to military voters at least 45 days before elections. The Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE) also required the Pentagon to create installation voting assistance offices on every military base. Florida is home to 21 military bases. The Military Voter Protection Project (MVPP) found in the 2010 election, “[A]t least 14 states and the District of Columbia failed  to comply with the 45-day mailing requirement.” Fund and Spakovsky notes one “troubling provision” of the MOVE Act, which allows states to obtain a one time waiver. Ten states and the District of Columbia applied for the waiver in 2010. One of the states applying was New York. “Many of New York City’s military and overseas ballots, more than 40,000 of them, were sent 25 or fewer days before the election,” note Fund and Spakovsky.

Many of the problems with military absentee votes would have been avoided had the Justice Department enforced UOCAVA and MOVE. MVPP found that the overall military participation rate during the 2010 elections was 11.6 percent. Military personnel were 3.5 times less likely to vote than other voting-age citizens. According to Eric Eversole, Executive Director of MVPP, stated “Justice delayed is justice denied” when it comes to the military absentee vote.

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Judicial Watch Sues for bin Laden Burial at Sea Records

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced that on July 18, 2012, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. Department of the Navy (No. 1:12-cv-01182)) against the United States Navy for records detailing “any funeral ceremony, rite or ritual” for Osama bin Laden prior to his burial at sea. Following the May 2, 2011, Navy SEAL raid that led to bin Laden’s capture and killing, the al Qaeda leader was reportedly transported by the USS Carl Vinson and buried at sea in accordance with Muslim law. If U.S. Navy regulations were followed, the burial would have included a prayer to “Allah” to make bin Laden “enter paradise and save him from the trials of grave and the punishment of hell.”

Pursuant to its March 20, 2011, FOIA request, Judicial Watch seeks access to the following records:

i. Any and all records utilized, referenced, or relied upon during the preparation and execution of any funeral ceremony, rite or ritual for Osama bin Laden on the USS Carl Vinson prior to his burial at sea. This request includes, but is not limited to, the text of any prepared remarks or prayers, any instructions provided to those in attendance, or any instructions or guidance regarding the handling of bin Laden’s remains.

ii. Any and all records of communication between any official or employee of the Department of the Navy and any official or employee of any other government department, agency or office regarding any funeral ceremony, rite, or ritual for Osama bin Laden prior to his burial at sea.

The U.S. Navy acknowledged receipt of Judicial Watch’s FOIA request by email dated March 22, 2012, and redirected the request to the Commander, Naval Air Forces on March 27, 2012. By law, a response was due by April 24, 2012. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit the U.S. Navy has failed to respond to the FOIA request in accordance with the law.

On May 2, 2012, a raid by U.S. Navy SEALS in Pakistan led to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader and mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Quoting Pentagon officials, ABC News reported that bin Laden was buried at sea within 24 hours of his death aboard the USS Carl Vinson in accordance with Muslim law: “…bin Laden’s burial at sea was conducted by a Muslim seaman, who recited the prayers and ensured that the body was washed and wrapped appropriately in cloth.”

According to U.S. Navy regulations, the prayer for Muslim burials includes the following: “O Allah, forgive him, have mercy on him, pardon him, grant him security, provide him a nice place and spacious lodgings, wash him (off from his sins) with water, snow and ice, purify him…make him enter paradise and save him from the trials of grave and the punishment of hell.”

In addition to its lawsuit over the bin Laden funeral records, Judicial Watch also sued the Obama administration to force the release of the bin Laden post-mortem photos and video. The Obama administration continues to withhold these records citing national security concerns. On May 4, 2011, President Obama told CBS News in an interview that he would not release the death photos of Osama bin Laden, who was captured and killed by U.S. Navy Seals, to the public, saying “we don’t need to spike the football” or “gloat.” On April 26, 2012, a federal judge blocked public access to the records.

Judicial Watch also sued the Obama Defense Department and CIA for access to record detailing communications between the Obama administration and Kathryn Bigelow, the Hollywood filmmaker who reportedly received classified information from administration officials in preparation for her upcoming film entitled, “Zero Dark Thirty.” According to records uncovered by Judicial Watch, the Obama Defense Department gave Bigelow and Boal identified and offered to make available to a “planner, Operator and Commander of SEAL Team Six,” which was responsible for the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, to help Bigelow prepare her upcoming feature film.

“Barack Obama is playing politics with bin Laden’s death and ignoring the rule of law – especially the transparency laws that his appointees violate with impunity,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “I suspect the Obama administration is embarrassed by the burial ceremony, which explains our having to go to court to get basic information about this important piece of history.”

Pinellas County Commissioners defy voter-approved term limits

Of the 20 charter counties in Florida, voters in 11 have overwhelmingly approved term limits for their county commissions. Ten of them recognize and respect the law.

The exception is Pinellas County.

In 1996, 73 percent of voters in Pinellas approved a countywide referendum that limited their county commissioners and county constitutional officers to eight years in office. Since then, a split Florida Supreme Court in Cook (2002) decided that counties don’t have the right to impose term limits on constitutional officers. But the Pinellas County commission decided the Cook decision applied to them as well even though the Supreme Court never ruled on commissioner limits in Cook or any other decision.

Until this year. In May, the Supreme Court not only clearly affirmed the constitutionality of county commissioner term limits, but also overturned its previous ruling in Cook regarding constitutional officers.

There is no longer any question whatever about the legality of county term limits in the state of Florida. Sarasota County – the only other county that was defying their voter-approved term limits law – accepted the Supreme Court decision and is now enforcing their popular 8-year term limits.

And yet, the Pinellas county commissioners continue to claim the law does not apply to them. The commissioners do not believe this is true. They simply want to keep their well-paid positions of power and are willing to brazenly defy the law – overwhelmingly approved by the people — in order to keep them.

In Pinellas County, 8-year term limits are currently in the charter. It was never amended to remove them. There is no court ruling that nullified the county commission term limits. On the contrary, there is now a Florida Supreme Court ruling explicitly affirming them.

It is not as if the voters are calling for their repeal. In 2009, a Quinnipiac poll showed that 79 percent of voters in the greater Bay area believe that their politicians should be term limited. Furthermore, the polling suggested that 78 percent prefer that the proper term limit is eight years and opposed longer limits.

Pinellas County commissioners should act honorably and obey the law. The four who have exceeded their legal term limit should resign before being forced to do so by the courts.

Citizen Watchdog Summit: Exposing Voter Fraud in Florida

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity has joined forces with Americans For Prosperity and True the Vote for a very special program! Join us for the Citizen Watchdog Summit: Exposing Voter Fraud in Florida. This will be a two day program of speakers and training that you don’t want to miss!

All eyes are on Florida at election time! Examples of deception, voter irregularities, and illegitimate intent are rampant: Voter Fraud does occur and we want to get the message out! We need to tell the truth about voter fraud even when the establishment media refuses to do so. In addition to tackling this hot issue, we will give you tools to expose and report on the local issues important to us all.

Americans for Prosperity-Florida, True the Vote and the Franklin Center’s Citizen Watchdog program is thrilled to host a two-day summit in South Florida. Please join us on Friday July 27th for an opening night dinner and Saturday, July 28, from 9am to 5pm at the Boca Raton Marriott to learn how you can get involved to hold our elected officials accountable, spread the message and help prevent voter fraud and set this country on a better path for future generations.

You will learn the best tools and techniques in investigative journalism, new media, and opposition research to help you identify and combat voter fraud.

Click here for more information about this event!

We’ll be joined by some of the nation’s leading experts in Election Integrity and citizen journalism. Join us to hear from such leaders as:

• John Fund, Voter Integrity Expert, senior editor of The American Spectator and author of Stealing Elections
• Hannah Giles, whistle blower, activist who helped uncover the unlawful practices of Acorn
• Guy Benson, TownHall.com
• Catherine Englebrecht, True the Vote
• MORE TBA

Click here to register!

For only $45 per person (the cost of meals and materials), you will learn:

– How Election Integrity can change the course of history
– How and when voter fraud occurs
– What simple task you can do to prevent the corruption of the voter booth
Plus:
– How to use investigative reporting tools and skills
– How to enhance state transparency with open records laws
– How to hold elected officials accountable through social media
– Legal tools to protect your liberties and empower citizens

Together, we can continue the hard, but important job of taking back America.

Citizen Watchdog Summit: Exposing Voter Fraud in Florida
July 27, 2012 6:30– 9pm Dinner w/ Special Guest John Fund
July 28, 2012 9-5pm Program Training
Boca Raton Marriott at Boca Center
5150 Town Center Circle
Boca Raton, FL 33486

Below please find a complete program agenda for the full two-day training. If you are not able to join us this time, sign up to receive updates on future Franklin Center trainings in Florida.

Citizen Watchdog Summit: Exposing Voter Fraud in Florida
Franklin Center * True The Vote * Americans for Prosperity
July 27-28 – Boca Raton, FL

Friday, July 27

5:30-6pm- Registration

6-9pm- Dinner With Keynote Speaker John Fund

Saturday, July 28

8:30am Continental breakfast

9:00-11:00 am, True The Vote Info and Training

Timeline: Bill Ouren

Teambuilding: Vicki Pullen

Research: Mark Antill

Taking Action in Florida: Catherine Engelbrecht

11:00-11:30am- Exposing the Establishment Media

Hannah Giles, ACORN Whistleblower

11:30- Noon, Intro to Citizen Watchdog Program

Mary Ellen Beatty, Franklin Center

Noon-1pm, Lunch with Guy Benson, TownHall.com

1-2, Investigative Reporting

Yael Ossowski, Florida Watchdog

2-2:45pm- Using Social Media to Hold Your Elected Officials Accountable

Javier Manjarres, The Shark Tank (Florida state blog), http://shark-tank.net/

2:45-3:00pm- Break

3:00-3:30pm- Florida Open Records Law

Jerry Couey, Citizen watchdog from Pensacola

3:30-4:15pm- Understanding Florida’s Key Legislative Issues in 2012

Slade O’Brien, AFP-FL

4:15-5:00pm- Strategic Research: Learning to Vet Important Public Figures

Mary Ellen Beatty, Franklin Center

Over 140 New Florida Laws Took Effect on July 1, 2012

As of July 1, 2012 over 140 new Florida laws took effect. To view a complete list of the new laws click here.

The following are some of the laws passed during the 2012 session and now in effect.

HB 7127 Relating to School Improvement and Education Accountability – Education Committee

School Improvement and Education Accountability: Revises provisions relating to implementation of public school improvement, including use of school improvement plans, corrective actions, intervention & support strategies, & school turnaround options; revises provisions relating to school grading system. Effective Date: July 1, 2012

HB 7087 Relating to Economic Development – Finance & Tax Committee

Economic Development: Provides exemption from intangible tax for lessees performing governmental, municipal, or public purpose or function; establishes funding source for H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute from portion of cigarette tax collections; establishes purposes for which funding to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute may be used; revises excise tax rates levied upon each ton of phosphate rock severed; defines term “mature field recovery oil” & applies to such oil tiered severance tax rates applicable to tertiary oil; provides exemption from tax on sales, use, & other transactions for electricity used by packinghouses; expands exemptions from sales & use tax on labor, parts, & equipment used in repairs of certain aircraft; provides exemption from tax on sales, use, & other transactions for sale or lease of accessible taxicabs; revises eligibility criteria for tax credits under Urban High-Crime Area Job Tax Credit Program; increases amount of income that is exempt from franchise tax imposed on banks & savings associations, etc. Effective Date: July 1, 2012

HB 7059 Relating to Acceleration Options in Public Education – K-20 Innovation Subcommittee

Acceleration Options in Public Education; Provides for Academically Challenging Curriculum to Enhance Learning (ACCEL) options to provide eligible public school students educational options that provide academically challenging curriculum or accelerated instruction; requires school district to adopt policy for early graduation; provides for career-themed courses; revises provisions relating to articulated acceleration mechanisms & dual enrollment programs; provides requirements for development & contents of school district & Florida College System institution articulation agreement; requires comprehensive student progression plan to include information on accelerated educational options; provides reporting requirements for student funding; provides for calculation of additional FTE membership based on completion of career-themed courses & early graduation. Effective Date: July 1, 2012

HB 7003 Relating to Environmental Resource Permitting – Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee

Environmental Resource Permitting; Requires DEP, in coordination with water management districts, to develop statewide resource permitting rules for activities relating to management & storage of surface waters; preserves exemption from causes of action under “Bert J. Harris, Jr., Private Property Rights Protection Act”; provides exemption from Administrative Procedure Act; requires counties, municipalities, & delegated local pollution control programs to amend ordinances & regulations; provides applicability, effect, & repeal of specified rules; provides presumption of compliance for certain stormwater management systems; provides exemptions for specified stormwater management systems & permitted activities. Effective Date: July 1, 2012

HB 5701 Relating to Taxation – Finance & Tax Committee

Taxation: Requires that deductions for cost of collecting & enforcing documentary stamp tax & for specified service charge be available for payment of certain obligations secured by such tax revenues with respect to bonds authorized before specified date; provides for collection of allowances of amount of tax due by persons who file returns only by electronic means & pay amount due on such returns only by electronic means; adopts 2012 version of Internal Revenue Code for purposes of ch. 220, F.S.; changes filing date for estimated tax under certain circumstances; requires DOR to provide adequate notice to affected taxpayers relating to earlier due dates for making estimated payment, etc. Effective Date: July 1, 2012

Eleven Constitutional Amendments on FL Ballot

By Dr. Rich Swier – There are eleven amendments to the Florida Constitution on the November 6, 2012 ballot. Two deal with religious freedom, two address veterans issues, one on public funding of abortions, one on health services, one on the state courts, four dealing with taxes and homestead exemptions and one on the college/university system. All of the amendments were placed on the ballot by the Florida legislature.

The following is a brief description of each of the Florida Constitutional Amendments:

Amendment 1 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage; permit a person or an employer to purchase lawful health care services directly from a health care provider; permit a health care provider to accept direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; exempt persons, employers, and health care providers from penalties and taxes for paying directly or accepting direct payment for lawful health care services; and prohibit laws or rules from abolishing the private market for health care coverage of any lawful health care service. Specifies that the amendment does not affect which health care services a health care provider is required to perform or provide; affect which health care services are permitted by law; prohibit care provided pursuant to general law relating to workers’ compensation; affect laws or rules in effect as of March 1, 2010; affect the terms or conditions of any health care system to the extent that those terms and conditions do not have the effect of punishing a person or an employer for paying directly for lawful health care services or a health care provider for accepting direct payment from a person or an employer for lawful health care services; or affect any general law passed by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature, passed after the effective date of the amendment, provided such law states with specificity the public necessity justifying the exceptions from the provisions of the amendment. The amendment expressly provides that it may not be construed to prohibit negotiated provisions in insurance contracts, network agreements, or other provider agreements contractually limiting copayments, coinsurance, deductibles, or other patient charges.

Amendment 2 – Proposing an amendment to Section 6 of Article VII and the creation of Section 32 of Article XII of the State Constitution to expand the availability of the property discount on the homesteads of veterans who became disabled as the result of a combat injury to include those who were not Florida residents when they entered the military and schedule the amendment to take effect January 1, 2013.

Amendment 3 – This proposed amendment to the State Constitution replaces the existing state revenue limitation based on Florida personal income growth with a new state revenue limitation based on inflation and population changes. Under the amendment, state revenues, as defined in the amendment, collected in excess of the revenue limitation must be deposited into the budget stabilization fund until the fund reaches its maximum balance, and thereafter shall be used for the support and maintenance of public schools by reducing the minimum financial effort required from school districts for participation in a state-funded education finance program, or, if the minimum financial effort is no longer required, returned to the taxpayers. The Legislature may increase the state revenue limitation through a bill approved by a super majority vote of each house of the Legislature. The Legislature may also submit a proposed increase in the state revenue limitation to the voters. The Legislature must implement this proposed amendment by general law. The amendment will take effect upon approval by the electors and will first apply to the 2014-2015 state fiscal year.

Amendment 4 – (1) This would amend Florida Constitution Article VII, Section 4 (Taxation; assessments) and Section 6 (Homestead exemptions). It also would amend Article XII, Section 27, and add Sections 32 and 33, relating to the Schedule for the amendments. (2) In certain circumstances, the law requires the assessed value of homestead and specified nonhomestead property to increase when the just value of the property decreases. Therefore, this amendment provides that the Legislature may, by general law, provide that the assessment of homestead and specified nonhomestead property may not increase if the just value of that property is less than the just value of the property on the preceding January 1, subject to any adjustment in the assessed value due to changes, additions, reductions, or improvements to such property which are assessed as provided for by general law. This amendment takes effect upon approval by the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, shall take effect January 1, 2013. (3) This amendment reduces from 10 percent to 5 percent the limitation on annual changes in assessments of nonhomestead real property. This amendment takes effect upon approval of the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, takes effect January 1, 2013. (4) This amendment also authorizes general law to provide, subject to conditions specified in such law, an additional homestead exemption to every person who establishes the right to receive the homestead exemption provided in the Florida Constitution within 1 year after purchasing the homestead property and who has not owned property in the previous 3 calendar years to which the Florida homestead exemption applied. The additional homestead exemption shall apply to all levies except school district levies. The additional exemption is an amount equal to 50 percent of the homestead property’s just value on January 1 of the year the homestead is established. The additional homestead exemption may not exceed an amount equal to the median just value of all homestead property within the county where the property at issue is located for the calendar year immediately preceding January 1 of the year the homestead is established. The additional exemption shall apply for the shorter of 5 years or the year of sale of the property. The amount of the additional exemption shall be reduced in each subsequent year by an amount equal to 20 percent of the amount of the additional exemption received in the year the homestead was established or by an amount equal to the difference between the just value of the property and the assessed value of the property determined under Article VII, Section 4(d), whichever is greater. Not more than one such exemption shall be allowed per homestead property at one time. The additional exemption applies to property purchased on or after January 1, 2011, if approved by the voters at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, or to property purchased on or after January 1, 2012, if approved by the voters at the 2012 general election. The additional exemption is not available in the sixth and subsequent years after it is first received. The amendment shall take effect upon approval by the voters. If approved at a special election held on the date of the 2012 presidential preference primary, it shall operate retroactively to January 1, 2012, or, if approved at the 2012 general election, takes effect January 1, 2013. (5) This amendment also delays until 2023, the repeal, currently scheduled to take effect in 2019, of constitutional amendments adopted in 2008 which limit annual assessment increases for specified nonhomestead real property. This amendment delays until 2022 the submission of an amendment proposing the abrogation of such repeal to the voters.

Amendment 5 – Proposing a revision of Article V of the State Constitution relating to the judiciary. The State Constitution authorizes the Supreme Court to adopt rules for the practice and procedure in all courts. The constitution further provides that a rule of court may be repealed by a general law enacted by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature. This proposed constitutional revision eliminates the requirement that a general law repealing a court rule pass by a two-thirds vote of each house, thereby providing that the Legislature may repeal a rule of court by a general law approved by a majority vote of each house of the Legislature that expresses the policy behind the repeal. The court could readopt the rule in conformity with the public policy expressed by the Legislature, but if the Legislature determines that a rule has been readopted and repeals the readopted rule, this proposed revision prohibits the court from further readopting the repealed rule without the Legislature’s prior approval. Under current law, rules of the judicial nominating commissions and the Judicial Qualifications Commission may be repealed by general law enacted by a majority vote of the membership of each house of the Legislature. Under this proposed revision, a vote to repeal those rules is changed to repeal by general law enacted by a majority vote of the legislators present. Under current law, the Governor appoints a justice of the Supreme Court from a list of nominees provided by a judicial nominating commission, and appointments by the Governor are not subject to confirmation. This revision requires Senate confirmation of a justice of the Supreme Court before the appointee can take office. If the Senate votes not to confirm the appointment, the judicial nominating commission must reconvene and may not renominate any person whose prior appointment to fill the same vacancy was not confirmed by the Senate. For the purpose of confirmation, the Senate may meet at any time. If the Senate fails to vote on the appointment of a justice within 90 days, the justice will be deemed confirmed and will take office. The Judicial Qualifications Commission is an independent commission created by the State Constitution to investigate and prosecute before the Florida Supreme Court alleged misconduct by a justice or judge. Currently under the constitution, commission proceedings are confidential until formal charges are filed by the investigative panel of the commission. Once formal charges are filed, the formal charges and all further proceedings of the commission are public. Currently, the constitution authorizes the House of Representatives to impeach a justice or judge. Further, the Speaker of the House of Representatives may request, and the Judicial Qualifications Commission must make available, all information in the commission’s possession for use in deciding whether to impeach a justice or judge. This proposed revision requires the commission to make all of its files available to the Speaker of the House of Representatives but provides that such files would remain confidential during any investigation by the House of Representatives and until such information is used in the pursuit of an impeachment of a justice or judge. This revision also removes the power of the Governor to request files of the Judicial Qualifications Commission to conform to a prior constitutional change. This revision also makes technical and clarifying additions and deletions relating to the selection of chief judges of a circuit and relating to the Judicial Qualifications Commission, and makes other nonsubstantive conforming and technical changes in the judicial article of the constitution.

Amendment 6 – This proposed amendment provides that public funds may not be expended for any abortion or for health-benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion. This prohibition does not apply to an expenditure required by federal law, a case in which a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury, or physical illness that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, or a case of rape or incest. This proposed amendment provides that the State Constitution may not be interpreted to create broader rights to an abortion than those contained in the United States Constitution. With respect to abortion, this proposed amendment overrules court decisions which conclude that the right of privacy under Article I, Section 23 of the State Constitution is broader in scope than that of the United States Constitution.

Amendment 7 – REMOVED

Amendment 8 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution providing that no individual or entity may be denied, on the basis of religious identity or belief, governmental benefits, funding or other support, except as required by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and deleting the prohibition against using revenues from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Amendment 9 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature to provide by general law ad valorem homestead property tax relief to the surviving spouse of a military veteran who died from service- connected causes while on active duty or to the surviving spouse of a first responder who died in the line of duty. The amendment authorizes the Legislature to totally exempt or partially exempt such surviving spouse’s homestead property from ad valorem taxation. The amendment defines a first responder as a law enforcement officer, a correctional officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, or a paramedic. This amendment shall take effect January 1, 2013.

Amendment 10 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to: (1) Provide an exemption from ad valorem taxes levied by counties, municipalities, school districts, and other local governments on tangible personal property if the assessed value of an owner’s tangible personal property is greater than $25,000 but less than $50,000. This new exemption, if approved by the voters, will take effect on January 1, 2013, and apply to the 2013 tax roll and subsequent tax rolls. (2) Authorize a county or municipality for the purpose of its respective levy, and as provided by general law, to provide tangible personal property tax exemptions by ordinance. This is in addition to other statewide tangible personal property tax exemptions provided by the Constitution and this amendment.

Amendment 11 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law and subject to conditions set forth in the general law, to allow counties and municipalities to grant an additional homestead tax exemption equal to the assessed value of homestead property if the property has a just value less than $250,000 to an owner who has maintained permanent residency on the property for not less than 25 years, who has attained age 65, and who has a low household income as defined by general law.

Amendment 12 – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to replace the president of the Florida Student Association with the chair of the council of state university student body presidents as the student member of the Board of Governors of the State University System and to require that the Board of Governors organize such council of state university student body presidents.

Each Amendment to the Florida Constitution will be sent in a pre-ballot to each registered voter. Voters may review the exact language of each Constitutional amendment.