Florida Government and Politics Weekly Update

07 September 2010 Publication
Author(s): Robert H. Hosay Thomas J. Maida

Public Policy News Alert

Politics: Latest Developments in the Race for Governor

The week following Florida’s primary elections saw several major developments in the contest for governor, including a poll showing the race to be a statistical tie, the withdrawal of a candidate, and the designation of an African-American woman as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

  • Bud Chiles withdraws. On September 1, 2010, Bud Chiles, son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, ended his no-party-affiliation campaign for governor and announced his support for Democratic candidate Alex Sink. In most polling, Mr. Chiles had been supported by between 10 percent and 20 percent of voters.
  • Polling. In the first major poll conducted after the withdrawal of Mr. Chiles from the race for governor, Rasmussen Reports found the contest to be a statistical tie. In a survey of 750 likely Florida voters conducted on September 1, 2010, 45 percent supported the Republican candidate, Rick Scott, 44 percent supported Ms. Sink, nine percent supported some other candidate, and two percent were undecided. When “leaners” were taken into account, 48 percent supported Ms. Sink and 47 percent supported Mr. Scott. The survey had a margin of error of four percentage points.
  • Rick Scott designates candidate for lieutenant governor. On September 2, Republican candidate Rick Scott announced that his choice for lieutenant governor was state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, who lives in Fleming Island and represents a Jacksonville-area district. Ms. Carroll retired from the U.S. Navy at the rank of lieutenant commander and was the first African-American Republican woman to be elected to the Florida Legislature. She is a native of Trinidad.
  • Bill McCollum refuses to endorse Rick Scott. In his first public appearance after conceding the Republican primary for governor, Attorney General McCollum refused to endorse his party’s nominee. “I still have serious questions about issues of [Mr. Scott’s] character, his integrity, his honesty,” Mr. McCollum said, adding that “as other voters will do, I will judge him throughout his campaign.”  After a hard-fought primary in which Mr. McCollum had the strong support of almost all Republican elected officials, Mr. Scott has now received the support of key party leaders, including Florida Republican Party Chair Sen. John Thrasher (R-St. Augustine), House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park), and Senate President-designate Mike Haridopolos (R-Melbourne).

Florida Constitution: Florida Supreme Court Removes Three Proposed Amendments From the General Election Ballot

In a series of opinions issued on August 31, 2010, the Supreme Court of Florida removed from the November general election ballot three amendments to the Florida Constitution that had been proposed by the Legislature and allowed two amendments that had been proposed by petition to remain on the ballot.

  • Property taxes. Amendment Three proposed to limit the annual increase in the assessed value of non-homestead property to five percent and to provide a temporary additional homestead tax exemption for new home buyers. In Roberts v. Doyle, the court found that the ballot summary did not adequately inform voters as to who would qualify for the exemption. Justice Polston, joined by Chief Justice Canady, dissented.
  • Legislative and congressional districting. Amendments Five and Six, proposed by petition, proposed additional standards for legislative and congressional districts, including requirements addressing issues of gerrymandering on behalf of political parties and racial or language minorities. The court had previously approved their placement on the ballot, finding that they met single-subject and ballot statement requirements. In Roberts v. Brown, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a subsequent challenge to these amendments that raised other issues. However, in Florida Department of State v. Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches, the court removed another redistricting amendment from the ballot. Amendment Seven, proposed by the Legislature, set out additional districting standards and required the state to “balance and implement” all of the standards in the constitution. The court held that the ballot description of this amendment did not inform the voter of its true purpose and effect on other constitutional provisions. Chief Justice Canady, joined by Justice Polston, dissented.
  • Health care. Amendment Nine as adopted by the Legislature would have guaranteed the right “to preserve the freedom of all residents of the state to provide for their own health care.” The issue in Florida Department of State v. Mangat was whether the Supreme Court could substitute the actual language of the amendment for an admittedly inaccurate and misleading ballot summary. The court found that it lacked that power and explicitly receded from prior cases in which it had applied that remedy. Once again, Chief Justice Canady, joined by Justice Polston, dissented.

Four other proposed constitutional amendments also remain on the ballot. Amendment One proposes to repeal the constitutional provision on public campaign financing, Amendment Two proposes a homestead tax credit for deployed military personnel, Amendment Four requires local referenda for adoption or amendment of comprehensive land use plans, and Amendment Eight revises maximum class-size requirements for public schools.

Growth Management: Circuit Court Declares 2009 Growth Management Law Unconstitutional

On August 26, 2010, Chief Judge Charles A. Francis of the Second Judicial Circuit issued a final summary judgment holding the 2009 growth management law (SB 360, compiled as Chapter 2009-96, Laws of Florida) unconstitutional.

The 2009 law loosened growth management requirements in what it referred to as “dense urban land areas.” Among other things, the law waived transportation concurrency requirements and the development-of-regional-impact review process in those areas. The law also required the adoption of comprehensive plan amendments and transportation strategies “to support and fund mobility.” Local governments and environmental groups argued that the law imposed costs on counties and municipalities in violation of the state constitutional prohibition of unfunded mandates.

The circuit court held that the requirement for comprehensive plan amendments rendered SB 360 unconstitutional.

Economy: Florida Resumes Population Growth

According to the Bureau of Economic and Business Research of the University of Florida, the state resumed its pattern of population growth in 2010, a year after sustaining its first population decline since the 1940s.

The bureau announced on September 2, 2010, that Florida’s population grew by 21,285 persons between April 1, 2009 and April 1, 2010. In the previous year, Florida population declined by 56,736 persons. Referring to the 2010 population increase, Stan Smith, director of the research bureau, said that “Even though the state turned it around, it still represents the smallest population increase since the 1940s and does not make up for last year’s loss. Florida’s population growth continues to be very, very slow by historical standards.” He noted that the state’s population grew by more than 125,000 persons every year from 1950 through 2008, and by more than 300,000 a year from the 1970s through 2006.

As of April 1, 2010, Florida’s estimated population was 18,771,768.

Public Policy News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our clients and our colleagues. If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss these topics further, please contact your Foley attorney or any of the following individuals:

G. Donovan Brown
Tallahassee, Florida

Marnie George
Tallahassee, Florida

Michael P. Harrell
Tallahassee, Florida

Robert H. Hosay
Tallahassee, Florida

Jonathan P. Kilman
Orlando, Florida

Thomas J. Maida
Tallahassee, Florida

Leonard E. Schulte
Tallahassee, Florida

Marnie George of The George Group assists Foley on a variety of government and public policy matters as a consultant.

Related Services