Tallahassee judge strikes three Amendments from Nov. 6 ballot

A Tallahassee judge quickly ruled after a hearing Wednesday to strike three Constitutional Amendments off the Nov. 6 ballot: Amendments 7, 9, and 11.

The amendments relate to everything from oil drilling and vaping to certain death benefits and property rights.

Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already appealed the ruling.

Harry Lee Anstead – a former Florida Supreme Court judge – and petitioner Robert Barnas, first filed their lawsuit challenging six Constitution Revision Commission amendments in the Florida Supreme Court to “expedite the process,” Barnas said.

But the Florida Supreme Court kicked the lawsuit down to Leon County Circuit Court last week in a ruling it said was not meant to be interpreted as a decision or commentary on the case.

On Wednesday in circuit court, an attorney for Anstead and Barnas argued that the way most of the amendments are written, where topics are “bundled” together, will force voters to say “yes” on a topic they may oppose to pass a topic they support, which is unconstitutional. The attorney also said that the amendments are intentionally misleading because they do not accurately inform the voter what will happen if they pass.

Leon County Circuit Court judge Karen Gievers did not allow arguments Wednesday on Amendments 6, 8, or 10, because they are involved in lawsuits in other courts. Her ruling concerned only Amendments 7, 9 and 11.

  • Amendment 7 groups a proposal to provide death benefits for survivors of first responders and military members with a proposal which affects how public colleges and universities make decisions and operate, Gievers’s ruling said, which prevents the voter from being able to make a single decision on which to support.
  • Amendment 9 bundles a revision to ban offshore oil drilling along Florida’s coast with prohibiting “vaping” in indoor workplaces which are measures that “are independent and unrelated,” Gievers said. Again, voters would not be able to choose directly which measure they supported or opposed.
  • Amendment 11 deals with property rights, criminal laws and high-speed ground transportation but does not tell the voter exactly what language it would remove from the Constitution, Gievers wrote in her ruling, which is misleading and fails to “inform voters of the consequences of approval.”

The case has been appealed to the First District Court of Appeals which means the lawsuit is ongoing.

All the ballot measures were proposed by the state’s appointed Constitution Revision Commission, which meets once every 20 years.

CD Davidson-Hiers
CD Davidson-Hiers is a 2017 summa cum laude graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Creative Writing and French. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key honors societies, and has received multiple writing awards for fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Prior to joining the Florida Phoenix, CD worked at the Tallahassee Democrat and has bylines in Tallahassee Magazine. She is a native of Pensacola and currently lives in Tallahassee with her tabby cat, Faulkner.
Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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