The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 9

The Florida Amendment Series: Amendment 9 

Bottom Line: This is the eighth in a twelve-part series covering Florida’s proposed constitutional amendments. Amendments can be confusing enough to understand but furthering the confusion, while there were originally thirteen amendments scheduled for November’s ballot, a court ruling knocked the 8th off of the ballot. For that reason, you’ll see amendments 1 through 7 and 9 through 13. Each proposed amendment requires a minimum of 60% support to pass. Here’s how it will appear on the ballot: 

BALLOT TITLE: Prohibits Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling; Prohibits Vaping in Enclosed Indoor Workplaces  

BALLOT SUMMARY: Prohibits drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state-owned waters between the mean high-water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. Adds use of vapor-generating electronic devices to current prohibition of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions; permits more restrictive local vapor ordinances.  

Thoughts: Yet again we see another “bundled” amendment proposal brought to you by Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission. First, here’s what this would do if passed: 

  • Bans offshore drilling in Florida’s territorial waters. 

  • Bans any liquid smoking/vaping device inside public buildings and any private business excluding establishments where smoking is currently permitted (typically bars). 

Independent of my views of these issues, I’m once again annoyed that two completely unrelated issues have been packed into one amendment proposal. 

Addressing the offshore drilling ban. Florida controls approximately the first 12 miles offshore around our state. Should the amendment pass drilling would be banned inside of that territory. It wouldn’t have any impact on federal authority that kicks in after 12 miles. 

The vaping/e-cig policy essentially would put those devices on equal footing as traditional cigarettes in our state. Specific to the issues themselves. Given the importance of tourism to our state, it’s safe to say that rigs that’d be visible from our shorelines on clear days wouldn’t be good for business, let alone if we were to experience an ecological disaster. Were this on its own proposal I’d be supportive without reservation. Regarding the e-cig consideration, my biggest question is why this needs to be in the state’s constitution? Bans on e-cigs and vaping in the Florida Constitution? Does that strike anyone else as potential overkill? That’s a legislative issue in my book. On principle, I’m inclined to vote no on Amendment 9.

Photo by: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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