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How good are things we amended?

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

Everybody is analyzing last week's election results, and a lot of those people are much more familiar with the candidates, especially on the national level, than I am.

But the one bit of the election that I did an awful lot of research on ahead of time was the choice of amendments on the Florida ballot.

There was one that was a no-brainer was the amendment concerning a tax break for military people deployed currently. Some people said no, it would hurt our tax revenues, but upon reading I decided that the impact would be miniscule, and that it would be a great way to show support for our troops.

It passed.

There were a couple that I wasn't sure of, including repeal of campaign spending, but I decided to vote for it, and the class-size change. I was against that, but e-mailed a teacher I respect very much, and she agreed, so I voted against that one. It didn't get enough to pass. I was glad of that … I have already written about how schools had years to get ready, and now at the last minute wanted to make changes.

Then there was Amendment 4, the one that would have required a popular vote of any comprehensive plan change.

I could see all sorts of problems with that, including interminable delays on some projects that would help the local economy. Besides, that's not how our government was formed. We are a representative government, where we elect the officials and they vote on the issues. If you don't like the way they vote, replace them. It's relatively simple, and has been since 1787 or so.

That leaves Amendments 5 and 6. These amendments, first, show how silly the letter of the law can be. They were originally proposed as one amendment, one which would eliminate gerrymandering in drawing legislative and Congressional districts. However, because the law allows amendments to deal with only one subject, the court invalidated that, and two amendments were born, reading almost exactly the same.

When I first read these, I shrugged off all arguments, and said that these were also no-brainers. However, some politicians managed to find objections to forcing the Legislature to eliminate the weird districts for both the Legislature and Congress.

The public didn't buy it and both passed.

I'm amazed that anyone was against this. Especially in Marion County, we should have been unanimously in favor. Look at the next year of the Legislature. We have several reps in both the House and Senate, but they don't live here.

Congress is a little better, but not much. Cliff Stearns is a local rep, but there are three other districts are reaching into the county, and all those people live elsewhere.

Some say it's good that we have so many reps concerned with our county, but I feel they are always going to lean toward their hometowns.

We have a legislative delegation meeting here on Nov. 30 and let's hope that they are sent the message that people want those amendments followed.

At least this year, all the amendments seemingly dealt with serious issues. Remember, it wasn't that many years ago that we passed an amendment giving certain protections to pregnant pigs.

That led to the 60 percent rule, which so far seems to have worked.

But at any rate, it's over for this year. And now it's quiet at supper time, no unnecessary phone calls.

Wait, excuse me, I have to go answer the phone.

I'm back. It was someone wanting us to donate to something, but he made the mistake of asking for Donald Clark. “No one here by that name,” I said, and promptly hung up.

Well, at least it wasn't a recording by a candidate.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or at 352-854-3986.