Orange County, Florida 2016 Ballot Amendments

Orange County Ballot Amendments – 2016 

Orange County voters approved a Charter Government in November 1986.

Orange County is one of 20 counties (out of 67) in Florida that are ruled by a Charter, and not by the state constitution.

The Charter mandated that a Board of County Commissioners and a Mayor be elected by the people.

Every four years, the Charter Review Commission (CRC), appointed by the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners, reviews the Charter and can make changes in the form of Amendments to be approved by the voters.

The CRC  has regular meetings, and the public is invited to attend. This committee does not need the approval of the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) to put amendments on the ballot. They have been meeting for 15 months.

CRC has proposed three Amendments to the Orange County Charter (see below) which will be placed on the November 2016 Ballot.

Amendment 1

This Charter Amendment would provide substantive changes in the initiative petition process.

Synopsis: In 2014, as a result of the “Sick Leave” Citizen Initiative, the BCC put an amendment on the ballot, which increased the number of days from the date signatures are certified by the Supervisor of Elections until it reaches the ballot, from 45 days to 150 days. Another Amendment also excluded issues relating to wages and benefits. There were members of the Board of County Commissioners who felt that there needed to be additional restrictions on the Citizen Initiative Petition, and they needed to be in the Charter.

This amendment adds 10 additional requirements in order for the Citizen Initiative process to be placed on the ballot. These further requirements include: limiting the initiative to a single subject; requiring a legal review; a financial impact statement; a public hearing requirement; require 10% of registered voters in all the districts (as opposed to 10% in a majority of districts); disclosure of signature gatherers’ paid or unpaid status; requiring an affidavit and a badge for each signature gatherer and adding a signature withdrawal process, adding deadlines & other procedural changes, protecting successful amendments for one year.

A YES vote on Amendment 1 would:

  • Provide for stricter verification of signatures and identification of petition gatherers
  • Require an equal percentage of signatures from each district rather than a majority of districts, thereby increasing the number of required signatures. If any district fails to meet the required percentage of signatures, then the petition fails.
  • Provide for a legal review panel (paid for by the County) to determine if the initiative is consistent with the Florida Constitution
  • Allow voters to know if the initiative would result in additional costs to the taxpayers

A NO Vote on Amendment 1 would: 

  • Not increase  the number of required signatures to get an initiative petition on the ballot
  • Not create a financial barrier to the sponsors of the initiative
  • Not place additional  burdens on both the signature gatherer and the petition signer

Amendment 2

This Charter Amendment would change all 6 Constitutional Officers into non partisan, elected Charter Officers subject to term limits.

Synopsis: In 2014, an amendment proposed by the Board of County Commissioners, and approved by the voters, changed all the Constitutional Officers (Sheriff, Clerk of the Court, Supervisor of Elections, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, Comptroller) from partisan to nonpartisan and from no term limits to term limits. There was an immediate lawsuit filed by several of the Constitutional Officers stated that the Charter had no authority over the Constitutional Officers. This Amendment would place all 6 of these officers in the Charter as Charter Officers, make them nonpartisan and term limited. However, they would not be subject to county commission or mayoral authority and would remain independent of the Mayor and the Board of County Commissioners.

A YES vote on Amendment 2 would:

  • Reinforce the 71% who voted in 2014, for having Constitutional officers be nonpartisan and term limited.
  • Amend the Charter to abolish the Constitutional status of all 6 officers and turn them into Charter Officers.
  • Restate that these officers would have the same limits that presently exist for Constitutional Officers.

A NO Vote on Amendment 2 would:

  • Maintain the independence of the Constitutional Officers
  • Not preempt or complicate the judicial process before the courts have time to make their final decision 

Amendment 3

This Charter Amendment would revive any provision of the Charter specifying term limits or nonpartisan elections for County Constitutional Officers in the event the provision is, or has ever been rendered unenforceable by court action,  and a later court action or legislation then renders that provision lawful and enforceable.

Synopsis: On May26, 2016, an oral ruling by Judge Keith White, said that Orange County had no authority to determine how its constitutional officers are elected. The ruling was the result of a lawsuit filed by 3 of the Constitutional Officers. Although it did not object to the term limits, it did object to the nonpartisan part of the ballot amendment that was successfully passed in 2014. He stated that the legislature would have to change the Election Code. This amendment is a direct result of the decision which is currently being appealed by the county to the 5th District of Appeals.

A YES vote on Amendment 3 would

  • Recognize that a change in the law regarding term limits or non partisan elections would apply without further action.

A NO vote on Amendment 3 would 

  • Not alter or  complicate the current status of the matter presently being reviewed by the appellate courts.
  • Not add potentially redundant language in the Charter.