I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Florida Supreme Court Knocks Amendments 5,7, and 9 off of the November Ballot

I received the word from Our General Counsel, Mrs. Donna Waters, in the below email.



The Florida Supreme Court just removed Amendments 5, 7, and 9 from the November ballot. As this is an issue of state law, there is no appeal to the US Supreme Court. The Court ordered that the opposition cannot even ask for a rehearing. The court made a cursory ruling, noting that longer, more formal opinions are to follow. You can read the very short orders at:


Donna Sessions Waters
General Counsel
Escambia County School Board
215 West Garden Street
Pensacola, Florida 32502

Here's the amendment summaries:

Amendment 5---Tax Swap-- would have cut property taxes by 25 percent, and in some counties up to 40 percent. The Legislature would have been required to make up those dollars by a variety of ways, including but not limited to a one cent increase in the state sales tax, reviewing existing sales tax exemptions, and overall budget cuts. Schools would have still been funded, and supposedly held harmless under Amendment 5.

Amendment 7-- titled "Religious Freedom," would have eliminated the Florida Constitution's no-aid provision (also known as the Blaine Amendment), which prevents public funds from being used "directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution." The proposed amendment would have also added language to the Florida Constitution mandating that the state could not bar an organization from participating in a public program because of religion.

Amendment 9-- would have overturned the 2006 decision in Bush v. Holmes, in which the Florida Supreme Court held that giving vouchers to students to attend private and religious schools violated the state constitution. The court concluded that the "uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools" clause in the constitution requires that public schools are the exclusive means of fulfilling the state's duty to provide education.Amendment 9 would have changed how the state could fulfill its duty to provide education, allowing it to "be fulfilled, at a minimum and not exclusively" through public schools. This voucher provision was tied to a provision that would require schools to spend 65% of their funds on "classroom instruction.

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