The Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter requires a Charter review at least once every five years. After creating a Charter Review Task Force to propose possible amendments to the Charter, the Board of County Commissioners has placed five proposed amendments on the ballot for voter consideration. A majority vote is required for approval. Here are the ballot issues as they will appear on the ballot and LWVMD explanations and comments.
1. Charter Amendment Relating to Nonpartisan Election of Clerk of the Circuit Court
Shall the Charter be amended to require that the election of Clerk of the Circuit Court be conducted on a nonpartisan basis and that no ballot shall show the party designation of any candidate for Clerk of the Circuit Court?
Vote “NO” if you want to keep this a partisan race.
Vote “YES” to make the vote nonpartisan.
This amendment would end partisan primaries for the county's clerk of the court. All other county offices face nonpartisan primaries, where every candidate runs regardless of party affiliation. The clerk's office is the exception, and this amendment would switch the position to a nonpartisan office for the next clerk's election in 2020. The League does not take a position on whether races should be partisan or nonpartisan.
2. Charter Amendment Relating to County Appointed Officials and Employees Running for Certain Elective Office
The Charter currently requires that County appointed officials or employees qualifying to run for federal, state or municipal elective office take a leave of absence and, if elected, immediately forfeit their County position. Shall the Charter be amended to limit this restriction to only apply to County officials and employees who qualify as a candidate for certain County elected offices?
Vote “NO” if you want to keep the current requirements.
Vote “YES” to limit the restriction to County officials and employees who qualify to run for certain County elected offices.
This amendment would reverse a rule in the county charter barring Miami-Dade employees from holding any elected office. The amendment would limit the ban to holding a county office, meaning the employees could serve at the federal, state and city levels. [The League is in favor of this amendment.]
3. Charter Amendment Relating to Review of Initiatory Petitions for Legal Sufficiency
Shall the Charter be amended to require that the Board of County Commissioners shall determine the legal sufficiency of an initiatory petition at the next Board meeting after the Clerk of Courts approves the petition form rather than after the required signatures have been gathered?
Vote “NO” if you want to keep the current process.
Vote “YES” if you want to have the form of the petition approved before the signatures are gathered.
The Charter allows voters to approve ordinances by referendum if enough voters sign petitions to put the item on a ballot. If passed, the ordinances must remain on the books for a year before the County Commission can alter or repeal them. This amendment would require county lawyers to weigh in on the legality of a proposed ordinance before it becomes the subject of a petition drive. This would avoid a situation like the one that occurred in 2016 where citizens gathered enough signatures to get campaign-donation restrictions on the fall ballot, but learned from county lawyers at the last minute that there were legal flaws in the proposed language. [The League is in favor of this amendment.]
4. Charter Amendment Regarding Elections for County Commissioners and Mayor
Shall the Charter be amended to provide that when a candidate for County Commission or Mayor withdraws, becomes disqualified, or becomes deceased prior to an election no votes cast for such candidate shall be counted and that when a candidate for County Commission or Mayor is unopposed in an election after the close of qualification such candidate shall be deemed elected to office?
Vote “NO” if you want to keep the current process.
Vote “YES” if agree with these changes.
The Charter states that “if no candidate [for County Commissioner] receives a majority of the votes cast there will be a runoff election.” However, the Charter is silent as to whether a runoff election is required where a candidate for Mayor or County Commissioner becomes unopposed due to withdrawal, disqualification, or death following a general election but prior to the runoff election.
This amendment officially allows the Elections Department not to count votes for unopposed, dead or withdrawn candidates. The county already follows this procedure, citing state law. The county's charter is mostly silent on the matter, and the amendment would add language explicitly authorizing the practice. It would also endorse canceling elections for candidates who run unopposed, which the county also does already. [The League is in favor of this amendment.]
5. Charter Amendment Prohibiting Certain Payments Circulators of Initiatory Petitions
Shall the Charter be amended to prohibit any person circulating an initiatory petition from paying or offering to pay any individual or organization, or receive payment or agree to receive payment, on a basis related to the number of signatures obtained for circulating the petition and invalidate any petitions collected in violation of this prohibition?
Vote “NO” if you want to allow per signature payments.
Vote “YES” if you agree to prohibit per signature payments.
The Charter does not currently address whether persons collecting signatures for a petition may be paid based on the number of signatures collected. [The League is in favor of this amendment because per signature payments are more likely to produce fraud. The League supports other methods of paying for petition collection.]
6. Shall the Miami-Dade County Board of County Commissioners be authorized to create a new municipality in the area of northeast Miami-Dade with the following outermost boundaries?
Northern boundary: County line
Eastern boundary: City limits of Aventura (Biscayne Blvd.)
Southern boundary: City limits of North Miami Beach
Western boundary: Interstate 95
Vote “NO” if you want to remain in unincorporated Miami-Dade County.
Vote “YES” if you want to be part of a new municipality.
Only voters in the affected area located in the northeastern part of the County will vote on this question If a majority approve the incorporation plan, then Miami-Dade County would form a panel to write a city charter. That document would then return to voters for approval, allowing the municipality to officially break away from the County and become its own local government under the county. [The League does not take a position on this issue.]
School Board Referendum #362: Referendum to Approve Ad Valorem Levy for Teachers, Instructional Personnel, School Safety and Security
Shall the School Board of Miami-Dade County, Florida, levy 0.75 mills of ad valorem taxes for operational funds (1) to improve compensation for high quality teachers and instructional personnel, and (2) to increase school safety and security personnel, with oversight by a Citizen Advisory Committee, beginning July 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2023?
Vote “NO” if you oppose this tax increase.
Vote “YES” if you are in favor of this tax increase and planned use of the funds.
This is a request to increase property taxes by 75 cents per thousand dollars in taxable value, which amounts about $142 for the typical homeowner, according to the school district’s calculations. The tax increase would generate an extra $232 million a year, which the school district plans to use to give teachers a raise and hire additional security personnel. The tax hike would not be permanent. The higher property tax rate would last four years and would have to be renewed by voters in order to remain in place.
LWVMD joins city officials and elected leaders in urging voters to vote YES on Referendum #362, Secure Our Future, which will benefit teachers and students. The referendum would raise property taxes to bring in an additional $232 million each year for public education in Miami-Dade County. About 80 to 90 percent of the funds will go directly toward increasing teacher pay, with the remainder spent on the placement of certified law enforcement officers at all public schools for enhanced security. At less than 40 cents per day for the average taxpayer, this initiative will increase teachers’ pay in Miami-Dade and is an important investment in our students, teachers, and community.