What is amendment 11?
Amendment 11 repeals three obsolete or outdated provisions of Florida’s constitution. Florida's Constitution Revision Commission added Amendment 11 to the ballot by a vote of 36-1, the largest margin of any measure added to the ballot by the CRC this year.
WhAT DOES amendment 11 ACTUALLY DO?
There's no denying that Amendment 11 is confusing. It contains several provisions, the ballot summary is full of legalese, and it even appears contradictory in places. Here's a brief summary of Amendment 11 that will hopefully clear up any confusion.
Amendment 11 does three things, each related to some obsolete or outdated provision of Florida's constitution. Here they are:
1. Amendment 11 amends Florida's "Savings Clause" to allow retroactive application of changes to criminal statutes, including reductions of criminal sentences.
In 1885, delegates to the Florida constitutional convention added a provision to Florida's constitution that said whatever the sentence is at the time a crime occurs is the only sentence that matters, no matter what happens in the future.
Even if the legislature reduces the sentence for a crime later, courts can't go back and change it for anyone who's already been convicted. Florida is the only state in the country with this provision in its constitution.
Amendment 11 would give the legislature the authority to apply sentencing reforms retroactively, or reduce sentences for those who were convicted under old laws.
For examples of who would benefit from this change, click here.
2. Amendment 11 repeals the "Alien Land Law."
This is a provision that was added in 1926 to discourage Asian farmers from moving to Florida. (Yes, really.) Most of these provisions have been ruled unconstitutional, and Florida's has never been enforced. A bunch of states passed them, and every other state but Florida has repealed it. Amendment 11 would repeal ours.
3. Amendment 11 repeals obsolete language about a high-speed rail system.
In 2000, Florida voters approved an amendment to create a high-speed rail system. In 2004, they changed their minds and voted to repeal that amendment. For some reason, the language of the 2000 amendment was never removed from the constitution, even though it was literally obsolete. Amendment 11 simply deletes this obsolete language.
WHAT DO THESE THINGS HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?
That's a good question! On the surface, a provision about criminal statutes, another about property rights, and another about an obsolete high-speed rail system don't really have much in common. So why are they all grouped together on the ballot? All three provisions are obsolete, outdated, or both.
- No other state has an explicit constitutional prohibition on sentencing reform retroactivity, a provision that was added to the constitution in 1885, when the population of the entire state was roughly the current population of Tampa.
- The Alien Land Law has never been enforced, and is almost certainly unconstitutional. It is still in the constitution just because it has never been repealed - something every other state that ever passed a similar provision has already done.
- The high speed rail provision is literally obsolete. The language currently in the constitution has already been repealed, but not deleted. It does nothing but take up space and confuse people.
These provisions were grouped together because none is controversial. No member of the public and no organization opposed any of the proposals in Amendment 11 at any public meeting of the Constitution Revision Commission. To avoid making an already long ballot even longer, the CRC grouped these uncontroversial proposals together.
I don't like "Bundling." why shouldn't I vote no on Amendment 11 and everything Else?
We share the view that the constitution is not the most appropriate place to settle policy disputes, and we understand frustrations about having to vote on multiple issues in single amendments. However, Amendment 11 is different, and we are asking voters to consider the amendment on its merits. Here's why:
- Every element in Amendment 11 is exclusively a constitutional issue. Unlike some of the other amendments on the ballot, nothing in Amendment 11 is a policy issue that could be settled in the legislature.
- Amendment 11 is a "cleanup" amendment. In 1998, Florida voters approved a similar amendment that bundled eight technical revisions to the constitution. Like those in Amendment 11, those provisions were not controversial.
- Writing three different amendments for these proposals would make an already lengthy ballot unnecessarily longer. Bundling the repeal of outdated and obsolete provisions makes the voting process more convenient and allows voters to spend more time on the issues that have generated more controversy.
- The proposals in Amendment 11 are bipartisan, and passed by a vote of 36-1 in the Constitution Revision Commission.
Ok, but WhY Should I support amendment 11?
Passing Amendment 11 will restore fairness and create second chances
Passing Amendment 11 is the only way the legislature can fix unfair disparities in our criminal justice system that are currently prohibited by Florida's Constitution.
A person who commits a crime on one day shouldn't have to serve a sentence five times longer than a person who commits the same crime one day later. But Florida's constitution currently mandates that unwarranted disparity by prohibiting the legislature from fixing it legislatively. Amendment 11 fixes this glaring problem with the constitution, and gives this power back to the people.