The Law and Your Business- Proposed Initiatives on the General Election Ballot
On November 8, 2016, there will be several initiatives on the ballot, in addition to the other election races. As important as the changes in the law and case interpretation are in managing your business, the importance of proposed changes to the Constitution (State and Federal) should not be overlooked or discounted. For Floridians’ statewide there are four (4) proposed constitutional amendments (each requires at least a 60% approval), and in Duval County a County wide referendum (requires a majority approval vote). It is not my intention to suggest how anyone should vote, but rather to provide some information that will encourage you to seek additional information, if necessary, so that you can make an informed voting decision.
Duval County Referendum: Authorize Slot Machines at a Licensed Pari-Mutuel Facilities
Only residents of Duval County can vote on this initiative.
Passage would support the City’s effort to go forward in pursuit of allowing this type of gambling. The Florida Supreme Court is reviewing the First District Court of Appeal determination that pari-mutuel wagering in certain counties (like Duval) under section 551.102(4), F.S. is not permissible based on a referendum, and any such vote would be non-binding and have no legal effect. Many other counties are lining up to permit slot machine gaming and await the final decision of the Florida Supreme Court. If ultimately approved, slot machines would be allowed at the pari-mutuel gambling sites and available to adults over the age of 21. The City would receive a 1.5% per year.
Constitutional Amendment 1: Rights of Electricity Customers Regarding Solar Energy Choice Would allow customers to own or lease solar equipment on their property to generate electricity for their own use. Customers who do not choose to install solar equipment will not be required to subsidize the costs of backup power and electric grid access for those who do. The financial analysis states that implementation of this amendment should not result in any change in revenues or cost to the state or local government.
Constitutional Amendment 2: Use of Medical Marijuana for Debilitating Conditions
Passage would provide for the medical use of marijuana under conditions determined by licensed Florida physician. The distribution to be regulated by the Florida Department of Health and caregivers will be allowed to assist patients in the use of marijuana. This amendment would not immunize a person from violations of federal law. The financial impact related to this amendment could not be determined, but anticipated increased regulatory costs together with a likely increase in sales tax revenue are anticipated.
Constitutional Amendment 3: Tax Exemption for Totally and Permanently Disabled First Responders
Authorize a first responder, who is totally and permanently disabled because of injuries sustained in the line of duty, to obtain relief from ad valorem taxes on homestead property. This amendment did not require a formal financial analysis but independent estimates suggest a first year of between one and six million dollars.
Constitutional Amendment 5: Tax Exemption for Certain Low-Income Senior Citizens
Passage would provide a tax break for homes valued at less than $250,000 owned by individuals over the age of 65 who have lived in the home for at least 25 years. The exemptions would also be available to permanently disabled veterans aged 65 or older and surviving spouses of veterans or first responders who died in the line of duty. Seniors would be able to keep their tax exemption even if their home value exceeded $250,000 in the future. An estimate in the potential annual loss of revenue to the state should this pass approximately twenty-seven million dollars.
Please get out and vote! Early voting begins on October 24.
Anthony (Tony) Zebouni, Regan Whelan Zebouni & Atwood, P.A.
For more information, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 904-356-1300