Quick Summary: Repeals the state’s ability to prohibit non-citizens from buying, owning and selling property; deletes a provision that forces the state to prosecute criminal suspects under the law they were originally charged under, even if the Legislature changes that law; deletes obsolete language having to do with high-speed rail in Florida.
Full Summary: This question has three parts.
- Florida’s Constitution currently has a clause that allows the Florida Legislature to pass laws restricting the property rights of “aliens ineligible for citizenship.” In other words, the Legislature has the authority to prevent non-citizens from owning, inheriting, buying or selling property. Known as “Alien Land Laws,” these restrictions swept the nation in the early 20th century, largely out of fear of the Japanese. Florida’s land-ownership amendment was approved by voters in 1926, but the state currently has no laws on the books restricting the property rights of non-citizens. In 2008, Florida voters rejected an amendment that would have done away with the ownership restrictions, partly because of confusion over its meaning and anti-immigrant sentiment. Amendment 11 is a second attempt to repeal these property-rights restrictions (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here).
- This part of the amendment would affect criminal defendants (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here). Currently, if someone is arrested for a crime, they’ll be prosecuted under the statute that is in effect when the alleged crime was committed. Say a person is arrested on June 30 for a drug crime. Even if a new law took effect the following day that reduced the sentence for the crime, the defendant would be subject to the stricter sentence under the old law. This amendment would ensure that criminal defendants are prosecuted under the most current laws on the books. However, this question does not alter the Constitution’s mandate that if a law is repealed altogether, a person arrested before that repeal could still face prosecution for the crime.
- The third part of this amendment deletes language about high-speed transportation (a CRC analysis of this proposal is here). In 2000, Floridians approved an amendment that mandated building some type of high-speed ground transportation. Four years later, voters overturned that amendment but the language about high-speed transportation wasn’t removed from the Constitution. This amendment would do that.