LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Six amendments await voters' decisions on the general election ballot in November; but rarely do amendments get the same kind of push as a candidate.
"People like to see a person and a face associated with going out to vote, voting for a candidate, if you will. Amendments are tougher," said Joe Mazurkiewicz, who's helping organize a campaign against Amendment 4.
The 2010 amendments are varied. Amendment 1 deals with elections, and whether to drop public funding for candidates who agree to certain spending limits.
Amendment 2 would give an extra property tax break to members of the military, in the form of a homestead tax credit.
Amendment 4 was brought to the ballot by petition, supporters say it'll put land use decisions for the future of communities in the hands of the voters. Opponents are actively fighting to keep such complex land decisions off future ballots.
"Letting people know they're going to be voting on 20, 30, 40 land use issues every year or maybe twice a year," Mazurkiewicz said.
Amendments 5 and 6 deal with drawing district lines for Congress and the Legislature, requiring those new lines do not specifically help or hurt any particular party or candidate.
THen there's amendment 8, calling for increased class size limits. The proposal would raise class sizes in from 18 to 21 in grades K-3; from 22 to 27 in grades 4 through 8; and from 25 to 30 in high schools. The amendment would also allow schools to exceed those limits in individual classes, as long as the school-wide average class size remains within the limits.
The amendment is drawing competing views, even from educators.
"Its very difficult already for the teacher to give that individual attention and to provide the individualized instruction that's now being called for more and more," said Mark Castellano, President of the Teachers Association of Lee County. "You try adding an additional ten kids to that room and see what kind of situation you're going have."
"We can't really do a lot of things with our classes because we have to stick with that number," said elementary principal Doug Santini. "If I have youngsters that need extra help, I can have fewer in their classroom, and students that are able to function in a large group can do so with a school-wide average."
The amendments do not follow a strict numerical order because three proposed amendments have been removed from the ballot (3, 7 and 9).
For more on the official wording of the amendments, visit the Florida Elections website at: http://election.dos.state.fl.us/initiatives/initiativelist.asp?year=2010&initstatus=ALL&MadeBallot=Y&ElecType=GEN