Complexities Of Amendment 4 Challenge Florida Voters

The choice between Alex Sink and Rick Scott for Florida's next governor is a simple decision -- albeit one with huge potential ramifications -- compared to sorting through the proposed constitutional amendments and local referenda.

Among the most complex decisions voters face on November 2: Yay or nay on Amendment 4, which proposes that any plan that affects growth and development must receive voter approval before proceeding. In order to pass, the amendment needs at least 60 percent of the total vote.

Proponents contend it will place more control over how communities develop in the hands of voters. Opponents warn that passage would mean a considerably slowed process for new land use and building projects at a time when Florida's economy needs such investments to get moving again.

"It's probably the most complicated of the amendments," says Tom Arthur, news information director for the Collins Center of Public Policy. "It's basically going to give the public final say on the growth opportunities of their communities. There is some thought out there that local governments -- and builders in particular -- have the power to make the changes they want whether the public is with those changes or not. This measure gives people a say.

"The opponents argue it's the wrong solution," continues Arthur. "That it's a flawed proposal that will lead to a multitude of referendums that will be difficult to understand, make chaos of the ballot and delay development."

Arthur says that while there is no definitive way to know what the consequences will be of either the amendment passing or not passing, there will most likely be further debate if the amendment does pass.

"When it's all said and done, there will probably be some legal issues. Is there a study that says what the consequences will be? No. It's impossible to know what consequences will be for any referendum placed on the ballot and the delays it would cause. But we do know that there are many, many layers to this one."

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Tom Arthur, Collins Center of Public Policy