What you need to know about six issues on Florida’s November 2024 ballot

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a "Vote Here" sign in Orlando, during the 2008 election. Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman via Flickr

By Jim Saunders ©2024 The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE — With the state Supreme Court this week signing off on ballot initiatives about abortion rights and the recreational use of marijuana, Floridians in November will vote on six proposed constitutional amendments. Passage of each proposal would require support from at least 60 percent of voters. Here are brief descriptions of the six issues:

ABORTION

In what could be 2024’s biggest political issue in Florida, voters will decide whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution. The vote will come after Gov. Ron DeSantis and lawmakers approved preventing abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The proposed constitutional amendment, in part, says: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict abortion before viability or when necessary to protect the patient’s health, as determined by the patient’s healthcare provider.”

MARIJUANA

Eight years after voters approved a constitutional amendment that broadly allowed medical marijuana, they will decide this year whether to give the go-ahead to recreational use of marijuana. The political committee Safe & Smart Florida, backed heavily by the Trulieve medical marijuana company, led the drive to put the measure on the ballot. It would allow people ages 21 and older to “possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption.”

CAMPAIGN MONEY

Lawmakers approved placing a measure on the ballot to again try to repeal a program that offers state matching funds to gubernatorial and state Cabinet candidates. Voters approved the matching funds program in 1998, and a repeal attempt failed in 2010. When the program was created, supporters said it could help reduce the influence of big-money contributors in statewide elections, but critics have long derided the program as welfare for politicians.

FISHING AND HUNTING

Fishing and hunting have been traditions for generations of Floridians. Voters in November will decide whether to enshrine a right to fish and hunt in the state Constitution. With the backing of outdoors groups, lawmakers voted almost unanimously last year to place the measure on the ballot. In part, the proposal says hunting and fishing “shall be preserved forever as a public right and preferred means of responsibly managing and controlling fish and wildlife.”

PROPERTY TAXES

Homeowners could receive slightly larger property tax breaks if voters approve a constitutional amendment that the Legislature put on the ballot. The proposal would lead to adjusting part of the homestead property-tax exemption for inflation. Homeowners receive tax exemptions on the assessed values of their property up to $25,000 and on the values between $50,000 and $75,000. The proposal would require adjusting for inflation the exempt portion currently between $50,000 and $75,000.

SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS

With supporters seeking to do away with a requirement that candidates run without party labels, voters will decide whether to hold partisan school board elections. Florida historically had partisan school board elections, but voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1998 to make the races non-partisan. Lawmakers, however, placed a measure on this year’s ballot that would return to partisan races starting in 2026. School board races in some areas have become battlegrounds in recent years.

IN HILLSBOROUGH: A SCHOOL TAX

In addition, Hillsborough County voters will vote on a tax increase aimed at strengthening education funding after the Hillsborough County School Board approved putting the question before voters.

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