Election 2012: 3 property tax amendments pass

Staff Writer
The Destin Log

Florida voters passed three property tax amendments to the state constitution favored by Florida Realtors. In addition, a number of Florida Realtors PAC candidates won their respective districts.

However, the state Realtor association also backed another property tax change for the constitution, Amendment 4 that failed to get the 60 percent voter approval rating required under Florida law.

“The passage of three property tax amendments will offer relief to the Floridians who need it most — our disabled veterans, firefighters, seniors and their families,” said Summer Greene, 2012 Florida Realtors president. “We’re also thrilled that many of the candidates ready to help families and promote real estate industry growth in Florida won their respective races. In some cases, the winning candidate is one of our own. I’m very proud to report that a number of Realtors ran and won.”

Florida Realtors PAC candidates

“We need lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate who understand homeowners’ needs and the Florida real estate industry, and I’m proud to report that 93 percent of Florida Realtors PAC candidates won their respective races,” said Greene. “When selecting lawmakers, we transcended politics and backed both Democrats and Republicans.

“Thanks to Florida Realtors PAC money, we’re in a strong position to accomplish great things in 2013. I would like to thank all the Realtors in Florida who gave generously of their time, talent and support to make this possible. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

While not all races are official, the breakdown of the 2013 Florida Legislature is becoming clearer, though a few races are close enough to force a mandatory recount.

Currently, it appears the Florida House will have 76 Republicans and 43 Democrats, with a recount expected in one district. In the Senate, the partisan balance is 26 Republicans and 14 Democrats.

For a complete list of Florida Realtors PAC-supported candidates who won their respective races, visit the Legislative page of Florida Realtors’ website.

Amendments passed by voters

The following amendments received at least 60 percent voter approval and became part of the Florida Constitution:

• Amendment 2 allows any U.S. veteran “disabled as the result of a combat injury” to receive a property tax break. Currently, only disabled veterans who lived in Florida when the injury occurred can benefit. Effective date: Jan. 1, 2013.

• Amendment 9 allows a property tax break exemption to the spouse of military veterans or first responders — law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians or paramedics — killed in active duty. Effective date: Jan. 1, 2013.

• Amendment 11 gives local governments the authority to create a new homestead tax exemption for seniors 65 and older, providing they’ve lived in the same home for at least 25 years, the home has a just value less than $250,000, and the homeowner fits a low-income classification.

Amendment 4

“We’re disappointed that Amendment 4 failed to pass, but we knew the challenges going in,” said John Sebree, senior vice president of public policy for Florida Realtors. “I believe in a normal election year, it would have passed. Unfortunately, 2012 was anything but normal.” While voters responded positively to the Amendment 4 message, too few may have heard it. A heated presidential election overrode local issues, and with 10 other amendments on the Florida ballot — the longest one in Florida history — voters had a number of decisions to make.

“Even our very successful ‘No on 4’ campaign two years ago worked against us,” said Sebree. “We favored the new Amendment 4 and switched to a ‘Yes on 4’ campaign. Unfortunately, our opponents — largely local governments with access to taxpayer dollars — took over our old campaign. They used the same consultant and the same logo. Even their yard signs looked similar.”

This article was contributed to The Log by Florida Realtors.