There are so many bad constitutional amendments on Florida’s ballot that it’s hard to know where to start.
The most deceptive is Amendment 8, which is fraudulenty captioned “Religious Freedom.” If passed, it would open the door to taxpayer funding of private religious schools and institutions, a dangerous mixing of church and state that has been prohibited here for 126 years.
Amendment 8 used to be Amendment 7, which was derailed by a court challenge and then hastily rewritten. It would bar government from denying public funds to organizations or institutions based on “religious identity or belief.”
Specifically, it would eliminate the long-standing constitutional ban on using state money “directly or indirectly” to aid any “church, sect or religious domination.”
Amendment 8 was concocted by Republican lawmakers who support a student-voucher system that would benefit private schools and church schools while bleeding critical funds from state education revenues.
This should anger you only if you’ve got children or grandchildren in public school.
Another terrible ballot measure is Amendment 6, an anti-abortion manifesto that would punch holes in the privacy clause in Florida’s Constitution. If anything deserves a legal shield of privacy, it’s a woman’s personal and often difficult choices about birth planning.
Christian conservatives in the Legislature are exasperated because their attempts to restrict abortions have stalled in the courts because of the privacy issue. Their solution is to rewrite the Constitution to exclude abortion-related matters from that protection.
By weakening privacy rights, Amendment 6 would set the stage for politicians to interfere in a broad range of medical and family decisions in which they should have no say, no influence, no presence whatsoever.
Who can forget their disgraceful theatrics during the Terri Schiavo case?
Partisan spittle is likewise all over Amendment 1, which is basically just a ham-handed attack on the federal health-care law. It declares that government can’t make employers provide health insurance for their workers, and that it can’t force uninsured people to purchase insurance.
Where were these bold libertarian voices when mandatory auto liability insurance got passed in Florida? You can be sure they carry their little State Farm cards tucked safely in their wallets.
The good thing about Amendment 1 is that it’s all hot air, and it won’t have any effect on healthcare reform. That’s because federal law supersedes state law, a somewhat substantial technicality that failed to deter the grandstanding boneheads in Tallahassee.
To demonstrate their contempt for taxes, lawmakers have also larded the ballot with several amendments that would amount to a mugging of city and county governments.
Among them is Amendment 3, so dense and confusing that it might as well have been transcribed in Slovenian. It would change the equation for setting the state’s revenue cap, potentially restricting the amount of funds available for some rather basic municipal needs.
Around the country, 20 other legislatures have rejected versions of Amendment 3. Colorado voters passed one, and it proved to be such a mess that they hurried back to the polls and killed it.
None of this served to discourage the GOP leadership in the Florida Legislature, whose appetite for doomed schemes seems boundless.