Editorial: In Fla., Say No to 4, 5, 6 Amendments

Tuesday, 02 Nov 2010 09:49 AM

By Newsmax Editorial

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Florida voters should say “no” to three constitutional amendments on the ballot today that would harm taxpayers, undermine the state’s economy, and hurt democratic values.

Amendment 4 would require voter approval of all changes to local comprehensive land-use plans. Opponents argue that it will cost jobs and hurt Florida’s economy by stifling growth, thereby costing taxpayers millions of dollars.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush declared in a recent Op-Ed piece that the amendment “has the potential to completely stall our economy, making it harder to create and grow jobs and to responsibly manage growth in our state.”

One Florida city that enacted a similar law found it caused years of costly litigation that burdened taxpayers and drove jobs elsewhere.

Supporters of the amendment say voters deserve a “seat at the table” on growth decisions in their cities and counties. But voters are already in control of comprehensive plans by electing city and county officials who best represent their views on development.

It is crucial to Florida’s future that this amendment goes down to defeat.

Amendments 5 and 6 would allow Florida’s courts to draw redistricting maps. They would require that district plans may not be drawn to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party. They also would mandate that the districts be contiguous, compact, and — where feasible — make use of existing city, county, and geographical boundaries.

Amendment 5 pertains to legislative redistricting; Amendment 6, to congressional redistricting.

It is clear that the plans would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement, and would lead to endless litigation. They would increase the likelihood that any redistricting plan the state Legislature devises would be subject to protracted litigation and ultimately would be replaced by a plan created by judges rather than by elected representatives.

As Jeb Bush has pointed out, the amendments could jeopardize the progress Florida has made in creating opportunities for all individuals to serve in their government.

Supporters assert that the amendments would rein in gerrymandering. But true communities of interest aren’t necessarily compact and don’t fall easily along political boundary lines, such as counties. Force-fitting districts within those lines makes it difficult to group voters on the basis of genuine common interest.

Opponents also say it's a trial lawyers relief act, and unaccountable judges would steer power to the political left.

Voters should say “no” on Amendments 4, 5, and 6.

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