JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida voters will be choosing more than just a President in November, they will also be deciding whether to add 11 amendments to the state's Constitution.
Of the 11 amendments, three are getting the most attention:
-Amendment 1-Health Care Services
-Amendment 6-Prohibition on Public Funding of Abortions; Construction of Abortion Rights
-Amendment 8-Religious Freedom
According to Rod Sullivan, a professor at Florida Coastal School of Law, Amendment 1 has become a non-issue. The Amendment would "prohibit laws or rules from compelling any person or employer to purchase, obtain, or otherwise provide for health care coverage."
The amendment was targeted at the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare," which requires people to have health coverage by 2014.
"That has really been taken over by events," explained Sullivan. "It was proposed by the legislature at a time when Obamacare was believed to be unconstitutional. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is Constitutional, I don't see any practical difference that the healthcare amendment is going to make."
Sullivan said people can still vote "Yes" on Amendment 1 to show that they are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, but it will not have an impact on the law.
"You can vote for it as a protest against Obamacare, but the tax is collected by the federal government and nothing the state does is going to stop that," Sullivan said.
Amendment 6 would outlaw the use of public funding to cover abortions except where that funding is protecting by federal law, including a case where pregnancy would result in the death of the mother or "a pregnancy that results from rape or incest."
The Amendment would also streamline the rights of women in Florida to abortions, which currently are considered more broad than at the federal level.
"This would basically say, 'no.' The Florida Constitution and the U.S. Constitution are the same," reasoned Sullivan. "They guarantee a right to abortion, but the rights in Florida to abortion are no greater than the rights any place else in the country."
According to Sullivan, Amendment 8 could have the largest day-to-day impact on people's lives. It would remove the state's current laws that prohibit the use of government funding to benefit churches or religious entities.
Sullivan said this Amendment would make it possible for people to spend government benefits at religious-affiliated hospitals, schools or similar organizations.
"Vouchers is a perfect example," explained Sullivan. "The Surpreme Court has said that vouchers are Constitutional even if the parents decide to send their children to a parochial school. Under Florida's Constitution, a court has said that vouchers are inappropriate if a parent's going to choose to spend that money in a religious school. So, this would provide the option for a parent who got a voucher to say, 'I want to send my child to Riverside Presbyterian Day School. I want to send my child to Episcopal.'"
First Coast News