The Saint Leo Polling Institute recorded Florida’s view point regarding the proposed amendments to the Florida State Constitution. The Saint Leo Polling Institute captured the responses from 1,028 likely voters from Florida, from Oct. 22 to Oct. 26, with the margin of error being plus or minus three percentage points.
There are four measures that Florida voters will be voting for. These include: the access to solar energy, marijuana usages for certain illnesses, property tax exemptions as it relates to first responders and senior citizens. For each ballot measure to be passed, 60 percent of Florida voters must approve the measure.
One of the measures that Florida voters will be voting for is whether Florida residents have the “right to own or lease equipment that produces solar energy for personal use,” according to the Polling Institute. Support for Solar Energy among Florida voters has drastically changed over the course of the year. In fact, support from likely voters has declined more than 20 percent, with the 81.4 percent of likely voters supporting the cause in Aug. going to 59.8% of likely voters supporting in Oct. Additionally, in Oct., the likely voters who oppose this measure amounted to 27.9 percent, leaving 12.3 percent unsure.
The lost support can be attributed to the negative reaction from social media. There are speculations running wild regarding what the proposed amendment is suggesting and whether it could result in a harm for the solar energy industry.
“This movement away from the support for Amendment 1 is a sign that the social media campaign is working,” said Frank Orlando, a political science professor and the director of the Saint Leo Polling Institute. “Opponents of Amendment 1 clearly don’t have the financial power that utility companies do, but they’ve been effective at getting their message out via forums, like Facebook.”
The first part of the proposed amendment seems as though it can enhance the industry for solar energy. However, some who oppose this argue that Floridians already have the right to use or lease their solar equipment and generate power on their own, and argue that this proposed amendment doesn’t actually allow for the market to broaden because it doesn’t state that Floridians would be granted the right to resell “excess power they generate,” The Polling Institute states.
Those who oppose also draw attention to the second half of this proposed amendment where it states: “State and local governments shall retain their abilities to protect consumer rights and public health, safety and welfare, and ensure that consumers who do not choose to install solar are not required to subsidize the cost of backup power and electric grid access to those who do.”
Critics make the argument that this allows for Floridians to be charged higher for solar energy than traditional form of energy, benefiting the traditional utilities industry rather than the solar industry.
Many critics turn to the fact that similar bills in some states have decreased the productivity of the solar energy industry, as The Nation reports. In fact, The Nation reports that throughout the country “Amendment 1 was introduced by Consumers for Smart Solar, a group made up almost entirely of utility companies that have spent close to $26 million trying to get the initiative passed.”
The bill seems to benefit utilities companies rather than solar energy companies as seen in Nevada after the bill was passed, where the Public Utilities Commission reduced the incentives for homeowners to
get solar energy, as npr.org reports. In fact, according to npr.org, the solar energy industry has taken a nose dive, and large solar energy companies “have stopped seeking new business in the state and laid off hundreds of workers,” according to npr.com.
However, supporters of the measure argue “that the proposed amendment allows for a safe and reliable way to bring more solar power into the Florida landscape,” as the Polling Institute states. However, when The Polling Institute asked why the 614 supporters, who represent 59.8% of likely voters in Oct., changed their mind to oppose Amendment 1 with responders having the ability to select more than one reason, 131 selected “It may restrict practice of sending beck excess energy produced for an offset to my costs,” 119 selected “The amendment may restrict my ability to lease solar equipment from third party vendors,” 110 selected “Amendment 1 is supported by utilities companies,” and only 85 selected “I already have the right to own solar equipment.”
The other measures have less opponents than Amendment 1, with all having at least 70 percent Florida likely voters supporting in Oct.
One of the measures concerns Amendment 2, and as the Polling Institutes states, this measure “grants the right to use marijuana for the treatment of certain ailments when recommended by a physician.” With this one having support from 71.3% of likely voters in Oct., the main concern is whether these voters will actually vote.
“We’ve shown Amendment 2 to be consistently above the 60 percent threshold. The only important question left there is turnout,” commented Orlando. “Can Amendment 2 backers get their voters to the poll in a way they couldn’t in 2014.”
The other ballot measure is related to Amendment 3 and grants property tax exemption for the first responders who were disabled in the line of duty. Although Florida already grants tax break “to help survivors of deceased first responders,” voters may know that this measure extended to include first responders who are disabled. In fact, 75 percent of likely voters in October support this measure.
Also, the tax relief for the senior citizens is also a concern in the other Florida Ballot measure. To be exact, The Polling Institute refers to this measure regarding the Amendment 5 as a measure that “locks homes values in place for senior citizens eligible for property tax breaks.” Also, although in June only 65.8 percent of likely voters supported this measure, the number of likely voters jumped to 12.1 percent in Oct.
Along with choosing the next president of the United States, on Nov. 8, Florida residents have the choice to approve the four measures on the ballot. With the Saint Leo poll capturing the likely voters’ mindset, it seems as the Amendment 2, 3 and 5 will be approved, while Amendment 1 may not.Saint Leo Poll Captures Florida Voters’ Support of the Amendment