Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 (2014)

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Amendment 1
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Florida Constitution
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Environment
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
Seal of Florida.svg.png
November 4
Amendment 1 Approveda
Amendment 2 Defeatedd
Amendment 3Defeatedd
Endorsements
Polls
Expenditures
Local measures

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1 was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in the state of Florida as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure was designed to dedicate 33 percent of net revenue from the existing excise tax on documents to the Land Acquisition Trust Fund.[1]

The Land Acquisition Trust Fund was developed to acquire and improve conservation easements, wildlife management areas, wetlands, forests, fish and wildlife habitats, beaches and shores, recreational trails and parks, urban open space, rural landscapes, working farms and ranches, historical and geological sites, lands protecting water and drinking water resources and lands in the Everglades Agricultural Areas and the Everglades Protection Area. The fund was designed to manage and restore natural systems and to enhance public access and recreational use of conservation lands.[1]

The campaign in support of the initiative was led by Florida's Water and Land Legacy.[2]

For a referred amendment to win in Florida, it must win a supermajority vote of 60 percent of those voting on the question, according to Section 5 of Article XI of the Florida Constitution. This change was made via Amendment 3 in 2006.

Election results

Florida Amendment 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 4,238,739 74.96%
No1,415,92425.04%

Election results via: Florida Division of Elections

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official title was as follows:[3]

Water and Land Conservation - Dedicates funds to acquire and restore Florida conservation and recreation lands[4]

Ballot summary

The official ballot summary was as follows:[3]

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.[4]

Constitutional changes

See also: Article X, Florida Constitution

Amendment 1 added a Section 28 to Article X of the Florida Constitution:[3]

SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund. --
a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:
1) As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.
2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).
c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state.[4]


Fiscal note

The fiscal note developed by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference was as follows:[5]

WATER AND LAND CONSERVATION – DEDICATES FUNDS TO ACQUIRE AND RESTORE FLORIDA CONSERVATION AND RECREATION LANDS, #12-04

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.[4]

Background

LATF

The Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) was created by the Florida Legislature in 1963. The LATF was designed to fund the Outdoor Recreation and Conservation Program, which would primarily purchase land for parks and recreation areas. Originally, the legislature allocated revenue from a five percent tax on outdoor clothing and equipment, including bathing suits. In 1968, the legislature abandoned the tax and funded the LATF through the sale of recreation bonds. These bonds were paid for by a documentary stamp tax on real estate transactions and financial documents.[6] Since 2009, however, appropriations for the fund had been slashed. The initiative was an attempt to provide a new revenue source for the LATF.[7]

Support

Florida's Water and Land Legacy Logo Updated2014.png

The measure was sponsored by the organization Florida's Water and Land Legacy.[2]

Supporters of Amendment 1 emphasized that the measure would enhance drinking water, conservation and recreation without raising taxes. They also said the state’s economic reliance on tourism behooved the state to invest more in protecting the region’s natural beauty.

Supporters

See also: A full list of supporters

Officials

Former officials

Organizations

  • 1000 Friends of Florida[13]
  • Alachua Conservation Trust
  • Audubon Florida
  • The Conservation Fund
  • The Conservancy of Southwest Florida
  • Conservation Trust for Florida
  • Defenders of Wildlife
  • Everglades Foundation
  • Florida Conservation Coalition
  • Florida Wildlife Federation
  • Green Party of Florida
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Rails to Trails Conservancy
  • Sierra Club
  • Trust for Public Land
  • Alliance of Florida Land Trusts
  • American Planning Association, Florida Chapter
  • Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy
  • Apalachicola Riverkeeper
  • Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association (Riverwatch)
  • Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
  • Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida
  • Democratic Women’s Club of Florida
  • Destination Orlando
  • East Coast Greenway Alliance
  • Emerald Coastkeeper
  • Federation of Garden Clubs
  • Florida Consumer Action Network
  • Florida Native Plant Society
  • Florida Outdoor Recreation Coalition
  • Florida Society for Ethical Ecotourism
  • Florida Trail Association
  • Florida Trust for Historic Preservation
  • IDEAS (Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions)
  • Indian Riverkeeper
  • League of Women Voters of Florida
  • League of Conservation Voters
  • National Wildlife Federation
  • North American Butterfly Association
  • North American Native Fishes Association
  • Paddle Florida
  • Progress Florida
  • Reef Relief
  • Save the Manatee Club
  • Sea Turtle Conservancy
  • South Florida Wildlands Association
  • St. Johns River Alliance
  • St. Johns Riverkeeper
  • Surfrider Foundation
  • Tampa Bay Conservancy
  • Tampa Bay Watch
  • Urban Environment League of Greater Miami
  • Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association[14]

Businesses

  • Brasington's Adventure Outfitters[13]
  • Collany Properties
  • Live Oak Production Group
  • Pinewood Properties, Inc.
  • Plum Creek

Individuals

  • Allison DeFoor (R), former environmental advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush[15]
  • Edward Osborne "E. O." Wilson, academic sociobiologist and conservationist[16]

Arguments


A Florida Water and Land Legacy video featuring biologist Jim Stevenson.

Allison DeFoor (R), former vice chair of the Republican Party of Florida and former environmental advisor to Gov. Jeb Bush (R), called on conservatives to support the amendment. He said:

I support Amendment 1 because, without raising new taxes, it will enhance sources of drinking water, manage fish and wildlife habitats, add and restore lands, protect beaches and shores and maintain state and local parks...

Supporting Amendment 1 falls squarely in line with my belief that conservation is all about conservative values and ideas. Conservation is, by definition conservative. Republicans have a long tradition of it, nationally and in Florida. Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush were leaders. In Florida, Gov. Bob Martinez created Preservation 2000. Gov. Jeb Bush created a similar effort, Florida Forever. In Jacksonville, Mayor John Delaney led the way in local conservation, creating a legacy that will continue for generations. All Republicans, like me...

Conservatives believe that government spending should be directed first toward the limited number of things that only government can do well. Securing a clean water supply and the conservation of lands falls in the wheelhouse of this definition.

Conservatives also believe that, whenever possible, government funding for these essential functions should not rely on higher taxes to get there.

Finally, conservatives believe that public spending should be tied to measurable returns on investment. In the case of Amendment 1, if clean water and preserved lands for future generations isn’t enough, consider the impact of these assets on Florida’s No. 1 economy: tourism. Fundamentally, only Hawaii and Alaska have their economy and environments as deeply tied together as we do in Florida.

On top of that, it’s important to remember that every segment of Florida’s economy depends on the natural beauty that draws people and businesses to our state. Without pristine waters and unspoiled landscapes, Florida will lose the special appeal that has fueled our growth and prosperity.

Amendment 1 fulfills these principles: It ensures that our state dedicates adequate dollars into the most essential of public goods — protecting our waters and conserving our lands; it “lives within our means” by ensuring that taxes aren’t raised to do so; and it provides an earnest return on investment for generations to come...

If the people of Florida approve Amendment 1, we will together have secured our common interest in the most clear and direct way. And to this old Florida cracker, there’s nothing as conservative as that. [4]

—Allison DeFoor, [17]


A Florida Water and Land Legacy video titled "There's only one Everglades."

Other arguments in favor of the amendment included:

  • Will Abberger, the campaign chairperson for Florida’s Water and Land Legacy, said, “Having a source of clean drinking water, ensuring that the quality of our rivers, lakes and streams is good, and protecting our beaches, is something that is important enough that it shouldn’t be subject to whatever political winds are blowing in Tallahassee.”[18]
  • Sen. David Simmons (R-10) encouraged the Citrus Club and the NAIOP, commercial real-estate associations, to back Amendment 1. He said that Amendment 1’s fund was a good way to fix water issues, rather than by restricting development. He said, “Nitrates are seeping into the aquifer and migrating. The theory that dilution is the solution to pollution isn't working. We don't want to be drinking out of the toilet, and that's what we're doing right now. We want to be drinking pristine, pure water… It behooves you to resolve this.”[8]
  • Rae Ann Wessel, director of Natural Resource Policy at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, noted, “These are the things that make projects like preservation, conservation, and restoration pay for themselves, not in an obvious way sometimes, but it feeds the economy of Florida which is predominately underwritten by tourism.”[19]
  • Scott Maxwell, a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, critiqued the Florida Chamber of Commerce's argument against the amendment, saying, "Quite predictably, the Chicken Littles at the Florida Chamber of Commerce have already begun fear-mongering... a chamber V.P. recently tried to scare voters by suggesting that, if legislators set aside money for the environment, they may cut money from education or even (gasp!) "senior health care." Welcome to the chamber's wide world of false choices — where deciding you don't want sewage runoff in your drinking supply means you'll have to take away granny's medicine money... My kids used to make similarly childlike protestations when we told them they had to set aside 10 percent of each week's allowance for charity. Then again, they're children. And they quickly learned what chamber execs apparently have not — that budgets are about priorities. You start with what's most important and work from there."[20]

Campaign contributions

As of November 22, 2014, Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc. had received $6,364,719 in contributions.[21]

PAC info:

PAC Amount raised Amount spent
Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc. $6,364,719 $5,552,415
Total $6,364,719 $5,552,415

Top 5 contributors:

Donor Amount
The Trust for Public Land $458,157
Gladys G. Cofrin $406,000
Paul Tudor Jones II $250,000
Florida Wildlife Federation $212,870
Jape Holley Taylor $200,000

Opposition

While there was no organized campaign against Amendment 1, a number of politicians, individuals and organizations opposed the measure. Some felt the amendment’s goals were warranted, but changing the constitution to meet such goals was not. With this amendment in the constitution, elected officials wouldn’t be able to modify how much of the documentary tax revenue the LATF would get. Others emphasized the number of conservation laws and amount of land the state already owns to critique the amendment.

Opponents

Officials

Organizations

  • Florida Chamber of Commerce[24]
  • Florida Council of 100[10]
  • Florida Farm Bureau[25]
  • The Liberty Caucus[26]
  • Coalition for Property Rights[27]

Arguments

Florida TaxWatch, in the group's 2014 voter guide, concluded the following about Amendment 1:

It is clear that the amendment would decrease legislative flexibility in budgeting, which Florida TaxWatch has consistently held to be a vital tool for responsible budget decisions. Regardless of the merits of either argument on the issue, this is a policy decision that does not belong embedded in “constitutional concrete” in the Florida Constitution.

[4]

—Florida TaxWatch[28]

Chris Muro, a political science professor at Eastern Florida State College, said the state had enough "provisions, sections, revisions, and statutes" protecting conservation. He explained his reasoning:

First, there are numerous sections in Florida law, Chapter 259 of the Florida Statutes in particular, that already deal with the acquisition and conservation of land and natural resources. In addition, there is the Florida Forever program, passed by the Florida Legislature and implemented by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which has spent nearly $3 billion since 2001 to acquire 707,740 acres of conservation land and 686,370 of acres groundwater recharge areas.

The Department of Agriculture also has broad jurisdiction to regulate in areas of environmental conservation. Within the Department there is the Office of Agricultural Water Policy, as well as a Botany and Forest Protection Bureau. These agencies have an aggregate yearly budget of $1.5 billion.

As if that weren't enough, Florida voters approved an amendment in 1998 that created a constitutional bureaucracy called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission which also has broad authority to enforce protections concerning water and land preservation with a yearly budget of more than $300 million. But wait, there is more. In 1996, voters approved Section 17 to Article X of the Florida Constitution establishing the Everglades Trust Fund whereby monies "shall be expended for purposes of conservation and protection of natural resources and abatement of water pollution in the Everglades Protection Area and Everglades Agricultural Area."

At this point it seems reasonable to conclude that there are already enough provisions, sections, revisions, and statutes on the books to protect and conserve Florida's precious natural resources. [4]

—Chris Muro[29]

Randall G. Holcombe, DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University and a Senior Fellow with the James Madison Institute, said the amendment's procedures would be "costly and inefficient... for protecting Florida’s environmental amenities." The following is an excerpt from a policy brief he wrote for the DeVoe L. Moore Center:

Few Floridians are opposed to conserving and restoring Florida’s environmental amenities, but Floridians should be opposed to this amendment. The proposed amendment would implement a costly and inefficient process for environmental preservation...

Currently, most doc stamp revenues go into the state’s general operating budget, so revenues mandated to go into this new trust fund would take away from revenues now used for other state purposes. Thus, there is a clear cost to this amendment because it would divert funds away from other programs and toward an earmarked land preservation program.

Moreover, by mandating a fixed percentage of doc stamp funds go into the trust fund, there is no upper bound on the amount that might be allocated. The Constitution would mandate this expenditure, regardless of the quality of environmental resources that might be acquired or protected. Every Floridian wants to protect the state’s natural amenities, but to do so by mandating that an uncertain amount be allocated for this purpose opens the door to the possibility of inefficient and inappropriate purchases...

The amendment does not identify which lands would be purchased or conserved, and there is no way to know ahead of time what purchases might make the most sense in a decade or two. In effect, the amendment writes a blank check for a program even though the benefits of the expenditures cannot be evaluated, and this is poor public policy. [4]

—Dr. Randall G. Holcombe[30]

Other arguments against the initiative included:

  • Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) stated, “I've certainly demonstrated my support for buying easements and accomplishing water and wildlife benefits from the use of acquisition programs. But I'm troubled by writing into the constitution elements of the budget.”[23]
  • David Hart, the executive vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, argued, “What our board historically has been concerned about is that we don’t follow the path of California, where so many mandates have been put in their constitution that their legislature is incapable of balancing the budget anymore.”[18]
  • Susan Pareigis, the President and CEO of the Florida Council of 100, said, “Amendment 1 would tie the hands of our elected leaders, blocking them from optimally allocating tax dollars to citizens’ needs and preventing them from meeting those needs as the economy fluctuates. Moreover, such appropriation by constitutional amendment would set a dangerous precedent by which other special interests would seek to further hamstring our policymakers’ ability to lead in a fiscally prudent manner.”[31]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Florida ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • Bradenton Herald said, "Voters will have to wrestle control of land acquisition and conservation away from politicians to put Florida back on the road to preserving land that will safeguard water, wildlife and vegetation. That opportunity exists today… Once a national leader in land conservation, Florida lost its way. Clean water and thriving ecosystems are vital to the state's quality of life and economic prosperity. Future generations will benefit from today's sound investments in public land."[7]
  • Florida Today said, "Because the Legislature has skimped on funding environmental programs, it's up to voters to approve Amendment 1 to provide Florida with a consistent and adequate revenue source for land and water conservation."[32]
  • The Gainesville Sun said, “But is Florida still an immature society? With a population approaching 20 million, haven't we matured to the point that we ought to be about the business of preserving great swaths of unique Florida landscapes — beaches, wetlands, forests, lakes and rivers — for the benefit of our children and their children?… That's why it'll be up to the voters next year to impose some level of adult supervision over the Legislature's future use and abuse of Documentary Stamp funds.”[23]
  • Ocala Star Banner said, "Lawmakers who say that spending choices should be left in their hands fail to acknowledge their failure to protect Florida's environment. The Florida Forever program had funded conservation purchases, but the Legislature has slashed its funding more than 97 percent since 2009… Now that voters from across the state have helped put the Water and Land Legacy initiative on the ballot, more of us must help it get the 60 percent support needed for passage."[33]
  • Tallahassee Democrat said, "Preserving Florida's beauty is good for the people, good for business and good for our future. Vote yes."[34]
  • The Tampa Tribune said, “There are no longer guarantees that Florida's environment will be adequately safeguarded, and that should concern all residents, as well as business leaders, who know Florida's natural beauty underpins its appeal. This is why voters need to enthusiastically back Florida's Water and Land Legacy Campaign — a drive to place a proposed amendment to Florida's constitution on the November 2014 ballot."[35]

Opposition

  • The News Herald said, "That’s a lot of money for a program — buying up more and more land to put under government control — that is inherently wasteful. In past editorials, this newspaper has applauded reductions in Florida land-buying expenditures. The state owns enough land. Some estimates put the total as high as 30 percent of Florida acreage, all of it shielded from taxation and requiring taxpayer dollars for upkeep."[36]

Polls

See also: Polls, 2014 ballot measures
Florida Amendment 1 (2014)
Poll Support OpposeUndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Florida Chamber Political Institute
6/11/2014
78.0%14.0%8.0%+/-3.5806
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to editor@ballotpedia.org.

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Florida

The initiative’s supporters needed to collect a minimum of 683,149 valid signatures by February 1, 2014, in order to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot. Proponents turned in 709,976 valid signatures to the Department of State.[1]

On September 26, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court ruled the measure’s language to be accurate, concise and constitutional.[1]

The measure was certified for the ballot on January 17, 2014.[1]

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

Support

Opposition

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Florida Secretary of State, "Water and Land Conservation," accessed January 15, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc, "Homepage," accessed June 30, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Florida Secretary of State, "Constitutional Petition Form," accessed January 20, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  5. Florida Office of Economic & Demographic Research, "Financial Impact Statement," accessed January 20, 2014
  6. Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “Land Acquisition Programs,” accessed January 15, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bradenton Herald, "Time for Florida voters to protect natural resources with Water and Land Conservation Amendment," August 28, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 Orlando Sentinel, "Embrace water-quality amendment, Simmons tells real-estate brokers," August 28, 2014
  9. The Suncoast News, "Florida conservation amendment faces hurdles," October 6, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 Miami Herald, "Amendment 1 promises to save Florida’s threatened land," September 26, 2014
  11. The Gainesville Sun, "Signatures are needed to put Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment on the November 214 ballot," September 15, 2013
  12. The Gainesville Sun, "Alachua County among leaders in getting conservation initiative on ballot," January 18, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Florida's Water and Land Legacy, Inc., "Endorsements & Supporters," accessed June 11, 2014
  14. Saint Peters Blog, "Florida restaurateurs, concerned over clean drinking water, endorse Amendment 1," September 12, 2014
  15. The Florida Current, "Former Bush advisor becomes chairman of group backing conservation lands amendment," February 13, 2014
  16. Vote Yes on 1 Facebook, "E.O. Wilson declares his support for Amendment 1!" May 16, 2014
  17. Miami Herald, "Why conservatives should support Amendment 1," June 4, 2014 (dead link)
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Tallahassee Democrat, "Gaetz: Amendment would shift too much land to state control," January 26, 2014
  19. Island Reporter, "Florida amendment to secure conservation funds makes it to 2014 ballot," January 27, 2014
  20. Orlando Sentinel, "Florida's environmental Amendment 1 is popular — for good reason," September 16, 2014
  21. Florida Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance," accessed July 8, 2014
  22. FlaglerLive, "Amendment 1: GOP Raising Objections to Sensitive Lands Conservation Funding Measure," September 11, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 The Gainesville Sun, "Voters should have chance to invest in state’s natural legacy," December 1, 2013
  24. Ryan Byrne, “E-Mail with Edie Ousley, Vice President of Public Affairs, Florida Chamber of Commerce,” July 24, 2014
  25. Florida Farm Bureau, "Positions of 2014 Amendments," accessed October 1, 2014
  26. The Liberty Caucus, "Analysis: Amendment 1 FL Water Land Conservation Initiative," September 11, 2014
  27. Coalition for Property Rights, "Amendment One – A Dangerous Precedent for Florida," accessed October 1, 2014
  28. Florida TaxWatch, "2014 Voter Guide to Florida’s Constitutional Amendments," accessed October 1, 2014
  29. Florida Today, "Chris Muro: A Trojan Horse issue," August 5, 2014
  30. DeVoe L. Moore Center, "Constitutionally Mandated Land Purchases: A Flawed Approach to Environmental Protection," January 2014
  31. Sunshine News, "Florida Council of 100 Opposes Amendment 1," September 26, 2014
  32. Florida Today, "Endorsement: Vote 'yes' on Amendment 1," October 28, 2014
  33. Ocala Star Banner, "Editorial: It matters to all Floridians," January 24, 2014
  34. Tallahassee Democrat, "Our Opinion: Constitutional amendments," October 19, 2014
  35. The Tampa Tribune, "Up to voters to protect Florida's treasures," August 19, 2013
  36. The News Herald, "Our View: Amendment reviews," September 29, 2014