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Vote yes on Amendment 1

October 31, 2014
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Voters statewide will decide Tuesday whether a minimum level of spending each year for the next 20 should be established for water and land conservation efforts.

Specifically, voters are asked whether 33 percent of an existing statewide tax, the "excise tax" on certain documents, should be dedicated "to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites."

The proposed constitutional amendment came to the ballot through petition, with proponents collecting nearly 1 million signatures to earmark funds from a tax source originally established for the purchase and maintenance of park and recreational lands.

Money intended for that Land Acquisition Trust Fund has, since its establishment in 1963, been used more and more for other purposes, supporters say, hence the need to mandate a minimum amount for the original purpose.

Critics say the measure would tie the hands of the legislature and has no place in the state's constitution.

We agree, for the most part, with those critics.

But given our experience here with the raid a couple of years ago on Conservation 20/20, and given the critical need for funding to mitigate discharges from Lake Okeechobee and restore the Everglades, we lend our support to Amendment 1, Water and Land Conservation.

The amendment has the support of numerous local environmental and conservation groups, little organized opposition, and it lets local voters put our money where our mouth is: It creates a dedicated funding source for projects such as the protection of the Caloosahatchee and area beaches.

We recommend a YES vote on Amendment 1.

Ballot Title:

Water and Land Conservation - Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands

Ballot language:

Funds the Land Acquisition Trust Fund to acquire, restore, improve, and manage conservation lands including wetlands and forests; fish and wildlife habitat; lands protecting water resources and drinking water sources, including the Everglades, and the water quality of rivers, lakes, and streams; beaches and shores; outdoor recreational lands; working farms and ranches; and historic or geologic sites, by dedicating 33 percent of net revenues from the existing excise tax on documents for 20 years.

This amendment does not increase or decrease state revenues. The state revenue restricted to the purposes specified in the amendment is estimated to be $648 million in Fiscal Year 2015?16 and grows to $1.268 billion by the twentieth year. Whether this results in any additional state expenditures depends upon future legislative actions and cannot be determined. Similarly, the impact on local government revenues, if any, cannot be determined. No additional local government costs are expected.

The Breeze also has made recommendations in the Lee County School Board race; the proposed Lee County Charter revision to set term limits for Lee County commissioners; the proposition to expand the School Board of Lee County from five members to seven while also implementing single-member districts and Constitutional Amendment No. 2, Medical Marijuana.

Summaries of those recommendations are:

Recommendations:

Local Races:

- Lee County School Board, District 4:

Recommendation: We endorse Steve Teuber for Lee County School Board, District 4.

Local initiatives:

- County Charter Revision regarding setting consecutive terms of the Board of County Commissioners

County Charter Amendment Section 2.2A "Legislative Branch The County Commission"; limiting the number of consecutive terms of the Board of County Commissioners; amendment would limit County Commissioners to serving no more than three (3) consecutive four-year-terms in office excluding terms of service prior to January 1, 2015.

Recommendation: Vote NO on County Charter Revision regarding setting consecutive terms of the Board of County Commissioners

- Proposition to increase School Board Members from Five to Seven with Five Single Member Districts

Shall the number of school board members for Lee County, Florida increase from five to seven with five present offices elected from single-member districts by voters residing in those districts only, the new school Board Members elected countywide by all voters of the county? A "yes" vote is for seven school board members with five offices elected in single member districts. A "no" vote is for five school board members offices, all elected countywide.

Recommendation: Vote NO on Proposition to increase School Board Members from Five to Seven with Five Single-Member districts.

Constitutional Amendments:

- Amendment 2: Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions

BALLOT SUMMARY: Allows the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating diseases as determined by a licensed Florida physician. Allows caregivers to assist patients' medical use of marijuana. The Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Applies only to Florida law. Does not authorize violations of federal law or any non-medical use, possession or production of marijuana.

Our recommendation: Vote YES on Amendment 2, Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions

Full editorials on the recommendations above may be found at cape-coral-daily-breeze.com under opinion, editorials.

- Breeze editorial

 
 
 

 

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