Sunday, September 30, 2018

Stadium deal could devastate Sarasota's tourism marketing

Courtesy of the Sarasota News Leader

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Tourist Development Council members say promotional funding critical for county’s tourism agency to fight widespread negative publicity over red tide

County Commission to have final say about how to pay for needed repairs to Ed Smith Stadium
(Editor’s note: This article was updated late in the morning of Sept. 21 to make it clear that the $97 million figure for the Baltimore Orioles’ economic impact on Sarasota County is the latest annual figure, based on research undertaken for Sarasota County.)

A county fact sheet offers details about the Tourist Development Tax. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Given the significant downturn in business and resulting employee layoffs since early August because of red tide, the members of Sarasota County’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) this week voted to recommend the County Commission not reduce the marketing budget in coming years for Visit Sarasota County.
As she had during the commission’s Aug. 22 budget workshop, Carolyn N. Brown, director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, explained to the TDC members on Sept. 17 that staff had considered a variety of options to pay for repairs the county is obligated to make to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota within the next five years. A decrease in promotional funding for the county’s tourism agency budget was deemed the best of those, Brown added.
An independent assessment — completed in July — of the county-owned stadium and Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex at Twin Lakes Park on Clark Road showed that about $16.5 million will be needed over the next 10 years for the repairs and improvements, Brown said. The county’s General Fund — which covers the operations of most county departments and those of the majority of the county’s constitutional officers — is too constrained to handle the expenses, she added.
The Baltimore Orioles use both facilities; they have been conducting Spring Training at Ed Smith Stadium since 2010.
Brown also noted that the county is obligated, under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Orioles, to keep Ed Smith Stadium “at a Major League Baseball standard.” The agreement calls for periodic assessments of the facilities, she explained.

These are the top reasons people visit Sarasota County, according to research undertaken for Visit Sarasota County. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The county has sufficient revenue in the Tourist Development Tax (TDT) reserve fund for Capital Projects/Events to cover $2.3 million of the approximately $3.3 million the county will have to spend at Ed Smith in the 2019 fiscal year, Brown said. The extra $1 million will come out of TDT revenue allocated for sports stadiums. However, staff does not anticipate having enough TDT money for the projects planned for the 2020 and 2022 fiscal years, she continued. Therefore, staff recommended reducing the money allocated to VSC for promotional purposes by about 5% in those two fiscal years, Brown pointed out, to cover the stadium expenses.
During the County Commission’s Aug. 22 budget workshop, the board members concurred with the staff recommendation. However, Commissioner Charles Hines, who chairs the TDC, noted that that advisory council would have an opportunity to review the issue and offer its opinion.
Hines did not vote at the conclusion of the presentations and discussion during the Sept. 17 TDC meeting. He abstained, he said, as he would be participating later in a formal vote as a member of the County Commission.
Media Relations Officer Drew Winchester told The Sarasota News Leader this week that the commission is scheduled to vote during its Oct. 9 regular meeting on whether to authorize a public hearing on staff’s proposed change to the TDT ordinance to shift funds from the promotional efforts for VSC to the stadium account. If the commission approves holding the hearing, Winchester added, that would be conducted on Oct. 23.
Vice Chair Norman Schimmel initially said he wanted to abstain from the vote, as well. Schimmel added that he first wanted to see a presentation Visit Sarasota County (VSC) President Virginia Haley plans for the TDC in October, showing how her staff would be modifying its business plan for the 2019 fiscal year to try to counter all the negative national publicity about red tide.
After Hines said he did not believe the TDC’s governing rules would allow Schimmel to abstain, Schimmel decided to join his advisory council colleagues in unanimously opposing any reduction in the VSC marketing funds.

This Visit Sarasota County graphic argues against the change in allocation of revenue to promotional initiatives. Image courtesy Sarasota County

“It is devastating,” TDC member Bob Daniels, who serves on the Venice City Council, said of the loss of tourism business — and worker layoffs — because of red tide. “It’s a shame we have to put the Orioles on the same table” as promotional funding.
Nine representatives of tourism-related businesses implored the TDC members not to take money from VSC.
“I can’t believe that this group is even considering cutting the marketing [money] for Visit Sarasota!” Paul Parr, who owns 12 vacation rental condominiums on Siesta Key, told the council.
Before red tide began plaguing the shoreline, Parr said, his August bookings were 30% ahead of the number for August 2017. “We ended up closing out August 30% behind last year.”
All of his September guests cancelled, he added. “I got the last two today. So my numbers are 30% down for August and 100% down for September …”
John Tanner, general manager of Innisfree Hotels, which manages the Indigo and the Embassy Suites in downtown Sarasota, told the TDC members, “It’s imperative now” to ensure Visit Sarasota County has sufficient marketing funds.

This is one of the dining areas at Pop’s Sunset Grill on the Intracoastal Waterway in Nokomis. Photo from the restaurant website

Joe Farrell, owner of Pop’s Sunset Grill on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in Nokomis, said, “We’re down 60% in the last nine weeks.”
TDC member Erin Silk, CEO of Venice MainStreet, reported that that nonprofit had undertaken a survey since red tide had worsened. Of the 134 businesses that responded, she said, 72% were located within 3 miles of the beach or the ICW. Two “outliers” reported losses of $1 million and $3 million, Silk continued. Without them, the average loss for each of the other businesses was about $15,800.
Altogether, she continued, 10% said their revenue was down more than 50% for the month of August; 30% said business was down from 25% up to 50%; and 36% had had to cut employees.
“It is our duty to protect our local businesses,” Silk added.
Yet, David Rovine, vice president for the Orioles in Sarasota, pointed out that the team has provided more than $10 million to Visit Sarasota County for promotional efforts over the past nine years. “This investment is not mandated by our contract with the county,” he added. “It’s a commitment from the Orioles … that is unmatched in Major League Baseball and possibly in professional sports.”
Rovine noted that since the team began Spring Training in Sarasota, the number of annual visitors to Sarasota County from the Mid-Atlantic States during the first quarter of each year had grown 300%.

A graphic provides details about the Baltimore Orioles’ impact on Sarasota County’s economy. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Orioles do not just conduct Spring Training, he stressed. They also host events throughout the year, including Fall Instructional League games and youth baseball tournaments, which generate hotel stays.
Moreover, Rovine said, the team elected not to construct dormitories for players, as many other teams have done in areas where they hold Spring Training. Instead, Rovine pointed out, the Orioles have spent more than $15 million on hotel room nights in the county for players and staff.
Brown of the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department also pointed out that the Orioles contribute about $97 million a year to the county’s economy, based on research undertaken for the county.
“This is probably one of the hardest debates and discussions I’ve had,” Commissioner Hines said, since he became the TDC chair in late 2014.
The stadium issues and the money

Fans watch a game on Feb. 28 at Ed Smith Stadium. Image copyright by the Baltimore Orioles

During her Sept. 17 presentation, Brown explained that the comprehensive facilities assessment for Ed Smith Stadium and the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex determined a number of issues that needed to be addressed over the next decade.
The projects planned for the 2019 fiscal year, she continued, will include renovations of practice fields 2 and 3 and the main field at the stadium; replacement of the remaining parts of the irrigation system installed in 1989; replacement of the top coat on the flooring in various areas; and the installation of equipment for lightning protection.
The biggest estimated expense listed in the report for FY19 is $1.5 million to raise the outfields to the infield level on practice fields 1, 2 and 3 and laser-grading of the fields. That work would cost $500,000 per field, the report said.
Brown noted that the study was undertaken by an Orlando firm called ZHA, which focuses on professional sports facilities.
The county and the Orioles each contribute $150,000 per year to a “CAPX” — capital expenditures — fund, she said, but that revenue cannot begin to cover the expenses outlined in the study.

A chart shows the funds needed over the next five years for repairs and renovations at Ed Smith Stadium. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In response to a question, Kim Radtke, director of the county’s Office of Financial Management, explained that if the county were to borrow the $8 million for five years to cover the repairs and renovations, the debt service would be $1.7 million per year, plus the county would incur expenses for issuing the bonds. VSC staff had suggested the bond issue as an alternative.
Brown also noted that staff had considered other ways of reapportioning the TDT revenue, but she stressed the need for continued beach maintenance and renourishment, as well keeping intact the funding dedicated to the arts in the community and to Nathan Benderson Park, which hosts national and international rowing events, among other activities.
The Visit Sarasota County perspective

A chart prepared for Visit Sarasota County by Downs & St. Germain Research offers the tourism agency’s perspective on anticipated growth in TDT revenue. Image courtesy Sarasota County

During her portion of the presentation, Haley, the president of Visit Sarasota County (VSC), pointed out, as she had earlier this year to the TDC, that the county will see an addition of 1,177 hotel rooms by the end of this year. That represents a 23% increase, she said.
To maintain the current occupancy levels, she continued, 225,000 more room nights would have to be sold in FY19, which would mean drawing 10% more visitors. “We are averaging 2 to 3% a year,” she said of the growth in the number of tourists.
The less demand for rooms, Haley stressed, the lower the room rates hotels can charge. The lower the rates, she continued, the less Tourist Development Tax revenue is produced, as the tax is 5% on accommodations rented for less than six months a year.
She showed the council a slide that said the county’s tourism promotion investment per lodging unit is $385. Through June of this year, the slide noted, the revenue per available room averaged $134.43, a 2.5% drop from the figure for the same period of the 2017 fiscal year.

A bar graph compares promotional investments of Sarasota County and neighboring counties. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In Pinellas County, the slide said, the revenue per available room had grown 2.9% for this fiscal year, through June. Pinellas invests $882 per lodging unit, the slide noted.
Sarasota County has lagged behind its competitor counties in terms of tourism promotional spending for the past 25 years, Haley said. “It’s just gotten worse over time.”
“We’re warning you,” she added: “Continual nibbling away of tourism marketing dollars” will continue to lead to negative consequences for TDT revenue.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

LWV analysis of proposed amendments to Florida Constitution

2018 Florida Constitutional Amendments

The League of Women Voters of Florida has conducted independent research on the pros and cons of all thirteen amendments that will be on the ballot in Novemeber. Here are some summaries of the meaning and impact of a yes or no vote on the amendments. For more details on the Amendments click here. 
For more views, see the analysis by the Tampa Bay Times, and another by the Florida Phoenix.

Thirteen proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution are on the General Election ballot, nine more than appeared on the 2016 ballot. However, voters face more questions than is apparent.
That’s because Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC), which convenes every 20 years, is allowed by law to bundle more than one issue into each question. An example of the CRC’s issue bundling in 2018 is Amendment 9, which asks voters to decide whether to ban offshore oil drilling, and whether to ban e-cigarettes at workplaces. Like the CRC’s other bundled amendments, voters cannot cast separate votes on drilling and vaping. These are all-or-nothing propositions.
Of the 13 amendments on this year’s ballot, eight were proposed by the CRC, three by the Florida Legislature and two by citizen initiative. To pass, each of them must receive at least 60 percent approval by voters. Unless otherwise indicated, changes to the Constitution take effect on Jan. 8, 2019.
Below are summaries of each amendment, including the impact of a yes or no vote.
Amendment 1
Increased Homestead Property Tax Exemption
Grants an additional $25,000 homestead exemption for homes valued over $125,000. Owners of homes worth more than $100,000 would also receive an increase in their exemption.
A YES vote on Amendment 1 would:
Allow homeowners to deduct an additional $25,000 from the taxable value of a home worth more than $100,000, starting on Jan. 1, 2019.
Exclude local school taxes from the new exemption.
Cost Florida’s cities, counties and other taxing authorities an estimated $687.5 million annually, starting in 2019, according to the Florida Association of Counties.
Likely result in cuts to services or higher local rates to make up for the revenue losses, or possibly both.
A NO vote on Amendment 1 would:
Retain the current homestead tax exemptions, which total $50,000.
Have no effect on the amount of tax revenue collected by city and county governments.
Supporters: Unknown (Homesteaders, mayne??)
Opponents: Florida Association of Counties; Florida Education Association; Florida League of Cities; Florida Policy Institute; League of Women Voters of Florida; Progress Florida

Amendment 2
Limitations on Property Tax Assessments
Makes permanent what currently is a temporary cap of 10 percent on annual property value increases for vacation homes, apartments and commercial property, effectively limiting increases on tax bills.
A YES vote on Amendment 2 would:
Make permanent the 10 percent limit on increases in tax value for non-homestead property, thus reducing tax bills.
Continue to deny local governments (excluding school districts) tax revenue they would otherwise collect from rising property values.
A NO vote on Amendment 2 would:
End the practice of limiting tax increases on non-homestead property by limiting property-value increases to 10 percent.
Possibly lead to higher tax bills for non-homestead property, resulting in additional revenue to local governments of about $700 million, according to the state Revenue Estimating Conference.
Supporters: Florida Association of Realtors; Florida Chamber of Commerce; Florida TaxWatch
Opponents: Florida Education Association; League of Women Voters of Florida

Amendment 3
Voter Control of Gambling in Florida
Requires approval of any new casino gambling through a citizen-initiative constitutional amendment, effectively barring the Legislature from making those gambling decisions by passing laws.
A YES vote on Amendment 3 would:
Require that voters approve a constitutional amendment through citizen initiative to authorize any new casino gambling in Florida, essentially stripping that authority from the Legislature.
Preclude constitutional approval of casinos through other means, including amendments offered by the Legislature or by the CRC.
Continue to allow the Legislature to approve other types of non-casino gambling, such as poker rooms, bingo, lotteries and fantasy sports.
Allow the Legislature to oversee, regulate and tax any casino-type gambling that voters approve through a constitutional amendment.
Not affect the state’s ability to negotiate casino agreements with Native-American
A NO vote on Amendment 3 would:
Continue to allow casino gambling either through new laws passed by the Legislature or through various types of constitutional amendments.
Supporters: Disney Worldwide Services; Florida Chamber of Commerce; Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association; League of Women Voters of Florida; No Casinos Inc.; Seminole Tribe of Florida
Opponents: Florida Education Association

Amendment 4
Voting Restoration Amendment
Allows those who have completed their entire sentence to earn the right to vote back except for those convicted of murder or felony sex offenses..
A YES vote on Amendment 4 would:
Grant felons – excluding those convicted of murder or felony sex crimes – the right to vote after completing all the terms of their sentence. The Governor’s Clemency Board studies have shown that recidivism rates drop about 30% if person has their voting rights restored. Another study shows that with a lower recidivism rate, costs of incarceration go down, employment goes up and that the positive impact on the Florida economy is $365 million per year.
A NO vote on Amendment 4 would:
Continue the current requirement that felons wait a minimum of five years before applying to have their voting rights restored, and then appear before the governor and Cabinet to appeal for those rights.
Continue allowing the governor and Cabinet sole authority to determine whether a felon is allowed to vote again.
Supporters: American Civil Liberties Union;Florida Rights Restoration Coalition; Floridians for a Fair Democracy; Florida Policy Institute; Florida Education Association; Florida National Organization for Women; League of Women Voters of Florida; Progress Florida
Opponents: Floridians for a Sensible Voting Rights Policy 

Amendment 5
Supermajority Vote Required to Impose, Authorize, or Raise State Taxes or Fees
Requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve any new or increased taxes or fees, rather than a simple majority.
A YES vote on Amendment 5 would:
Require a two-thirds vote by the state House and Senate to increase existing taxes and fees or impose new ones.
Require that any new or increased taxes or fees be voted on in stand-alone bills.
Exclude local governments from any supermajority requirements if they choose to raise taxes or fees.
A NO vote on Amendment 5 would:
Allow the Legislature to continue approving increased or new taxes and fees through a simple majority vote.
Allow the Legislature to continue bundling tax and fee increases with bills that include other measures.
Supporters: Florida TaxWatch; Florida Chamber of Commerce
Opponents: Florida Education Association; Florida Policy Institute; League of Women Voters of Florida; Progress Florida

Amendment 6
Rights of Crime Victims; Judges
Vastly expands the scope of victims rights under the state Constitution; increases the mandatory retirement age for judgesfrom 70 to 75; forces courts and judges to interpret laws and rules for themselves rather than rely on interpretations by government agencies.
A YES vote on Amendment 6 would:
Enshrine in the state Constitution an array of victims rights, many of which are currently in state law.
Place new time limits on filing appeals.
Require that victims receive some type of written notification of their rights.
Eliminate an existing constitutional provision that ensures victims’ rights don’t infringe on the rights of accused criminals.
Raise the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court justices and judges from 70 to 75.
Prohibit courts and judges from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of state laws or rules when deciding cases.
A NO vote on Amendment 6 would:
Retain existing victims rights in the Constitution and in state law.
Keep the mandatory retirement ages for justices and judges at 70.
Continue allowing courts and judges to rely on state agencies’ interpretation of state laws and rules when deciding cases.
Supporters: 37 Florida sheriffs; Florida Smart Justice
Opponents: ACLU of Florida; Florida Education Association; Florida Public Defender Association; League of Women Voters of Florida

Amendment 7
First Responder and Military Member Survivor Benefits; Public Colleges and Universities
Creates a supermajority requirement for universities to impose new or increase existing student fees; enshrines in the Constitution guidelines for the State College System; mandates that employers or the state pay a death benefit to first responders and members of the military killed in the line of duty.
A YES vote on Amendment 7 would:
Force universities’ boards of trustees and the state Board of Governors to get supermajority approval from their members toincrease student fees or impose new ones.
Make the governing framework for state colleges a part of the Constitution.
Create a constitutional requirement for state and local governments to pay death benefits to first responders.
Expand the definition of first responders under state law to include paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
Require the state to provide death benefits to members of the U.S. military who are either residents of Florida or who are stationed in the state.
Create an undetermined financial burden on local and state government from paying death benefits to a larger group of first responders and members of the military. The amendment does not specify a funding source for those payments.
A NO vote on Amendment 7 would:
Continue allowing universities to increase student fees or impose new ones with a simple majority of votes from governing bodies.
Exclude a governing framework for state colleges from the Constitution, while keeping it in state law.
Continue providing death benefits for first responders through state law rather than making it part of the Constitution.
Maintain the current definition of first responders eligible for death benefits, which excludes paramedics and emergency medical technicians.
Continue providing death benefits to the families of National Guardsmen who are killed in the line of duty, but not extend those benefits to the families of U.S. service members who live in Florida.
Supporters: Association of Florida Colleges
Opponents: Florida Education Association; League of Women Voters of Florida

Amendment 8  
NOTE: The Florida Supreme Court has removed Amendment 8 from the November 2018 Ballot, upholding the decision by a lower court.
School Board Term Limits and Duties; Public Schools
Mandates term limits of eight years for all Florida school boards; allows the state to create public schools, something only local school boards currently can do; and requires schools to teach “civic literacy.”
 A YES vote on Amendment 8 would have:
Created constitutional term limits for all Florida school board members, who could serve no more than two consecutive four-year terms.
Allowed the Legislature to set up a state-run system for establishing and operating public schools, something only local school boards, elected by local communities, currently can do.
Created a constitutional requirement for civics education in public schools, something state law already requires in middle schools.
A NO vote on Amendment 8 would have:
Rejected term limits for school board members and allow voters to return board members to office as long as they get re-elected.
Kept local school boards as the sole authority for approving, operating and supervising public schools.
Rejected a constitutional mandate for civics education, which would not affect the current state law that requires middle schools to teach students about the U.S. Constitution and other governing documents and institutions.
Supporters: U.S.. Term Limits
Opponents: Florida School Boards Association; Florida Policy Institute; Florida Education Association; Florida National Organization for Women; League of Women Voters of Florida; Progress Florida

Amendment 9
Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces Prohibits oil drilling beneath waters controlled by Florida; prohibits the use of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping, at indoor workplaces.
 A YES vote on Amendment 9 would:
Enshrine in the Constitution a ban on oil and gas drilling beneath Florida state waters. Exempt shipments of oil and gas on Florida’s waters.   Apply constitutional restrictions to drilling only to waters under state control, not to waters under federal control. Add new restrictions to the Constitution on the use of electronic vaping devices, largely mirroring current constitutional restrictions on indoor workplace smoking. Create exceptions to the vaping restrictions in homes, bars, vaping retailers and hotel rooms designated for vaping. Allow local governments to pass stricter regulations on the use of vaping devices.
A NO vote on Amendment 9 would:
Allow Florida legislators to change the current law that bans offshore drilling in state-controlled waters.
Leave any such vaping restrictions to the discretion of the state Legislature.
Supporters: Florida Wildlife Federation; Gulf Restoration Network; American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; League of Women Voters of Florida; Florida Policy Institute; Progress Florida
Opponents: Florida Petroleum Council; Associated Industries of Florida; Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association; Florida Education Association; Florida Chamber of Commerce

Amendment 10
State and Local Government Structure and Operation
Requires the Legislature to hold its session in early January on even-numbered years; creates an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement; mandates the existence of a state Department of Veterans’ Affairs; forces all counties to elect a sheriff, tax collector, property appraiser, supervisor of elections and Clerk of Circuit Court.
A YES vote on Amendment 10 would:
Fix the date for state legislative sessions in even-numbered years as the second Tuesday in January.
Create an Office of Domestic Security and Counterterrorism within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and establish it as the lead agency in terrorism investigations and responses.
Force the Legislature to always have a Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Force all of Florida’s counties, even those with a charter, to hold elections for all five local constitutional offices found in the state Constitution – sheriff, property appraiser, supervisor of elections, tax collector and clerk of the circuit court.
A NO vote on Amendment 10 would:
Continue allowing the Legislature to set a start date for its lawmaking session in even-numbered years.
Reject a constitutionally mandated Office of Security and Counterterrorism under the FDLE.
Reject a constitutionally mandated Department of Veterans’ Affairs, allowing the Legislature to determine if Florida should have such a department (which it currently does).
Allow Florida’s charter counties to continue determining the duties of five county offices identified in the state Constitution, andwhether those offices should be elected posts.
Supporters: Florida’s 66 elected Sheriffs, and Florida’s elected Tax Collectors, Clerks of the Courts, and the Property Appraisers.
Opponents: Florida Education Association; League of Women Voters of Florida

Amendment 11
Property Rights; Removal of Obsolete Provision; Criminal Statutes
Repeals the state’s ability to prohibit non-citizens from buying, owning and selling property; deletes a provision that forces the state to prosecute criminal suspects under the law they were originally charged under, even if the Legislature changes that law;deletes obsolete language having to do with high-speed rail in Florida.
A YES vote on Amendment 11 would:
Repeal a nearly century-old provision that allows the Legislature to restrict the property rights of non-citizens.
Deletes language that requires criminal suspects to be prosecuted under the provisions of the law they’re accused of breaking, even if that law is changed by the Legislature. Keeps language that requires prosecution if the law is repealed.
Deletes a section of the Constitution – concerning high-speed transportation – that was repealed by voters in 2004. The language, however, was not removed.
A NO vote on Amendment 11 would:
Continue to allow the Legislature to pass laws restricting the property rights of non-citizens.
Continue to mandate that criminal suspects (would be) prosecuted under the law they’re accused of breaking even if the state changes that law.
Retain a section of the Constitution about high-speed transportation even though voters repealed that section in 2004.
Supporters: Florida Chamber of Commerce
Opponents: Florida Education Association

Amendment 12 
Lobbying and Abuse of Office by Public Officers
Expands ethics rules for elected officials and government employees, notably by expanding from two to six years the time that many officials would have to wait before they could lobby state government.
 A YES vote on Amendment 12 would:
Extend the ban on state lobbying by legislators and statewide elected officials from two to six years.
Prohibit legislators and statewide elected officials from lobbying federal and local government agencies while in office.
Prohibit top state agency employees from any lobbying while working for the state and from lobbying state government for six years after leaving their job.
Prohibit local elected officials from getting paid to lobby anyone while in office and from lobbying their own governing body for six years after leaving office.
Prohibit judges from lobbying any branch of state government for six years after leaving the bench.
Prohibit any elected official or public employee from using his or her position to gain a “disproportionate benefit,” a term to be defined by the state Ethics Commission.
A NO vote on Amendment 12 would:
Keep in place the current constitutional restrictions on lobbying by sitting and former government officials.
Supporters: Common Cause; Florida Policy Institute; Integrity Florida
Opponents: Florida Chamber of Commerce; Florida Education Association

Amendment 13  Dog Racing
Bans wagering on any type of dog racing, notably greyhounds, as of Dec. 31, 2020, while continuing to allow dog tracks to continue offering other types of gambling, including poker rooms.
 A YES vote on Amendment 13 would:
Ban all dog racing in Florida by Dec. 31, 2020, while allowing tracks to continue operating card rooms and slot machines.

Result in a loss of about $1 million in taxes and fees.
A NO vote on Amendment 13 would:
Continue to allow wagering on dog racing in Florida.
Supporters: Grey2K USA; League of Women Voters of Florida
Opponents: Florida Greyhound Association; Florida Education Association; Florida Chamber of Commerce