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Florida Religious Organization Public Funding Ban Repeal (2010)

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Florida Religious Organization Public Funding Ban Repeal did not appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Florida as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The proposal called for a constitutional amendment to repeal a ban on public funding of religious organizations.[1]

According to reports, the measure would have eliminated constitutional language that reads, "No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination." The measure would have added, "An individual may not be barred from participating in any public program because that individual has freely chosen to use his or her program benefits at a religious provider."[1][2]

The proposed repeal, if referred to the ballot, required 60 percent of the vote to become law.[3]

However, the measure was not approved by the legislature at the end of the 2010 legislative session on Friday, April 30, 2010, thus the measure did not appear on the 2010 ballot.

Florida Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXII

Background

See also: Florida Amendment 7 (2008)

In 2008, a similar measure was placed on the ballot and later removed following a Florida Supreme Court ruling that questioned if the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission had overstepped its authority in referring the measure to the ballot.The measure would have eliminated the constitutional ban in Florida against sending state tax money to religious institutions.

Support

Supporters of the measure said the proposal would restore the neutrality of the government towards religion. The measure was proposed by Sen. Thad Altman. "Many religious organizations can provide valuable social services to the people of Florida and the current constitutional language prevents the state from tapping these potentially wonderful resources," said Altman. Additionally, Altman argued, "You know, it’s important to note that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution assures that the government will be neutral toward religion, that it will not establish a state religion. But here in Florida, we have language that is more restrictive than our U.S. Constitution."[4]

Supporters included former Gov. Jeb Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future, the Florida Catholic Conference and Florida Chamber of Commerce.[5]

Opposition

Opponents argued that the proposal, if approved, would infringe on the separation of church and state and may lead to other state changes including the financing of private schools.[4] Additionally, opponents said that the proposed legislation was a "'deceptive' way of creating a massive tax-supported voucher program to allow students to attend religious schools at public expense." Two of the leading opponents of the proposed measure was the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Anti-Defamation League.[6] Additional opponents included the Florida Education Association and the Florida PTA. ACLU lobbyist Courtenay Strickland said,"We object to government-funded religion and we object to that because we favor the free exercise of religion."[5]

Path to the ballot

See also: Florida law for legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

In order to qualify for the November 2010 ballot the proposed amendment required minimum approval of 60% of both the House and the Senate. On April 6, 2010 the Senate Education PreK-12 Committee approved the proposal with a vote of 6-2.[1]

See also

Similar measures

Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Florida Amendment 7 (2008)

External links

Additional reading

Editorials

References