Our general election is coming up on November 3, 2020. Not only do Americans get to decide on the next President and other political officers, but we also get to vote on 6 amendments to the Florida state constitution.
While there are 6 amendments on the ballot, only 3 of them directly impact real estate and business owners. So that is all I am going to elaborate on in this article. You can read details about all 6 proposed amendments here. I will try to give objective non-partisan information on these measures with some short pros and cons on how they will affect us. Here we go …
Proposal #2. Title: “Raising Florida’s Minimum Wage.” Ballot summary: “Raises minimum wage to $10.00 per hour effective September 30th, 2021. Each September 30th thereafter, minimum wage shall increase by $1.00 per hour until the minimum wage reaches $15.00 per hour on September 30th, 2026. From that point forward, future minimum wage increases shall revert to being adjusted annually for inflation starting September 30th, 2027.”
This is probably the most controversial of the proposals. If passed this proposal would gradually raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour over the course of the next 6 years. Currently Florida’s minimum wage is $8.46 per hour. This is a citizen backed initiative and is on the ballot because enough registered voters signed petitions to get it on there for a vote. The main supporters of this proposal are John Morgan (local attorney) and several employee unions. The main opposition is the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and several chambers of commerce. The pros are that this would gradually raise the wages of the lowest paid employees in the state. The cons are that this may increase unemployment and impact employers’ payroll budgets.
Proposal #5. Title: “Limitations on Homestead Property Tax Assessments; Increased Portability Period to Transfer Accrued Benefit.” Ballot summary: “Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution, effective January 1, 2021, to increase, from 2 years to 3 years, the period of time during which accrued Save-Our-Homes benefits may be transferred from a prior homestead to a new homestead.”
This proposal would amend Article VII, Section 4 and also Article XII of the Florida state constitution. This would extend the period by 1 additional year for home sellers to move their Save-Our-Homes property tax exemption from the home they sold to a new home they buy. It would give sellers 3 years to relocate their exemption to a new homestead instead of the current 2 years. The exemption only affects owner occupant homeowners and not real estate investors. The proposal unanimously passed both houses of the Florida legislature earlier this year. I could not find any significant support or opposition to this proposal from any large groups or associations. The pros are that it would give home sellers more time to relocate their exemption. The cons are that it might decrease state property tax revenues by extending the deadline to use the exemption.
Proposal #6. Title: “Ad Valorem Tax Discount for Spouses of Certain Deceased Veterans Who Had Permanent, Combat-Related Disabilities.” Ballot Summary: “Provides that the homestead property tax discount for certain veterans with permanent combat-related disabilities carries over to such veteran's surviving spouse who holds legal or beneficial title to, and who permanently resides on, the homestead property, until he or she remarries or sells or otherwise disposes of the property. The discount may be transferred to a new homestead property of the surviving spouse under certain conditions. The amendment takes effect January 1, 2021.”
This proposal would amend Article VII, Section 6 and also Article XII of the Florida state constitution. This would allow surviving spouses of certain deceased veterans to continue keeping their disability-related property tax exemption. The exemption only affects a small sliver of owner occupant homeowners who qualify and not real estate investors. The proposal unanimously passed both houses of the Florida legislature earlier this year. I could not find any significant support or opposition to this proposal from any large groups or associations. The pros are that it would allow surviving spouses to continue paying reduced property taxes on their homestead. The cons are that it might slightly decrease state property tax revenues by allowing the exemption to be continued by the surviving spouse.
It is definitely an interesting time to be in real estate. Make sure to have your voice heard by voting in the November 3 election.