Amendment polling Vote on drilling & vaping bans could be close

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Offshore drilling, fracking and vaping? All the practices draw out detractors, especially in Florida.

But a poll by the Florida Chamber of Commerce shows it may be a close call whether voters will ban all three with a single constitutional amendment.

The Chamber poll, obtained by Florida Politics, shows 50 percent of those surveyed ready to vote “Yes” on Amendment 9, with 34 percent planning to vote “No.”

That means of just those who have an opinion on the measure, just under 60 percent plan to support the amendment. But it takes at least 60 percent approval for the amendment to change Florida’s constitution.

The poll finds 14 percent of voters remain undecided. Should voters break in favor of the amendment, that should give the needed lift for the measure’s passage. But if they break “No” on 9, the amendment will likely fail.

The Chamber poll found a lower number of undecided voters regarding this constitutional amendment than it did for anything besides the popular Amendment 1, which increases Florida’s homestead exemption and boasts 60-27 support according to the poll.

If passed, Amendment 9 would prohibit oil or natural gas exploration and extraction in Florida state waters.

Notably, opposition to drilling since the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster largely shored up again in Florida, and it reaches across party lines.

Both Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, for example, voiced opposition to offshore drilling from the campaign trail this year.

But bundled in the same amendment, there would also be a ban on use of vapor-generating electronics, including electronic cigarettes and pipes, in any enclosed indoor workplaces.

The ban is similar to a ban on smoking tobacco in the workplace, passed in 2002 by 71 percent of voters.

The Florida Chamber Poll was conducted Sept. 19-24 and includes responses from 622 voters, of whom 41.5 percent were registered Democrats and 40.5 percent were registered Republican, with 18 percent not belonging to one of the major parties. The poll has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

Meanwhile, a separate Florida Chamber of Commerce poll shows voters favor three constitutional amendments that reduce taxes or make it harder to increase them. But only one of those amendments, Amendment 1, polls at the required level for passage.

A majority of voters favor passage of Amendment 1, a near-majority support Amendment 2, and a solid plurality support Amendment 5, according to the poll. All three of those amendments, which appear on ballots statewide on Nov. 6, relate to taxation.

About 60 percent of voters polled plan to vote ‘Yes’ and support Amendment 1, which if passed will bring the maximum homestead exemption in the state from $50,000 to $75,000 on homes assessed at more than $100,000. The poll shows 27 percent will vote ‘No’ and 12 percent remain unsure.

But even if all undecided voters end up voting against the amendment, it still would meet the 60-percent threshold required for passage.

Amendment 2, which would make permanent a tax cap on annual assessments for non-homesteaded properties (excluding school taxes), has the support of 50 percent of voters surveyed, while another 25 percent plan to vote against the measure and 24 percent remain unsure.

That likely puts the measure on the road to passage – winning 2-to-1 passes the 60-percent mark easily.

But the measure will need 60 percent of voters who weigh in on the question to support the measure, so if voters break against the amendment, passage could turn dicey.

A plurality of voters also supports Amendment 5, which would require a two-thirds vote of the Florida Legislature to enact or increase taxes and fees. The poll shows 45 percent of voters will vote “Yes,” with 36 percent voting “No.” Another 18 percent remain undecided.

That means of those who have an opinion on the measure, just 56 percent favor the amendment, short of the amount of votes required to make it part of the Florida Constitution.

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com. His work appears courtesy of FloridaPolitics.com.

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