Advisory Opin. re Extending Sales Tax, No. SC05-1564.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtAnstead
Citation953 So.2d 471
PartiesADVISORY OPINION TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL re EXTENDING EXISTING SALES TAX TO NON-TAXED SERVICES WHERE EXCLUSION FAILS TO SERVE PUBLIC PURPOSE. Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Requiring Legislative Determination that Sales Tax Exemptions Serve a Public Purpose. Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Directing Manner by Which Sales Tax Exemptions are Granted by the Legislature. Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non-Taxed Services Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Public Purpose. Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Requiring Legislative Determination that Sales Tax Exemptions Serve a Public Purpose. Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Directing Manner by Which Sales Tax Exemptions are Granted by the Legislature.
Decision Date22 March 2007
Docket NumberNo. SC05-1566.,No. SC05-1565.,No. SC05-1564.,No. SC05-1835.,No. SC05-1833.,No. SC05-1834.
953 So.2d 471
ADVISORY OPINION TO THE ATTORNEY GENERAL re EXTENDING EXISTING SALES TAX TO NON-TAXED SERVICES WHERE EXCLUSION FAILS TO SERVE PUBLIC PURPOSE.
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Requiring Legislative Determination that Sales Tax Exemptions Serve a Public Purpose.
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Directing Manner by Which Sales Tax Exemptions are Granted by the Legislature.
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non-Taxed Services Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Public Purpose.
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Requiring Legislative Determination that Sales Tax Exemptions Serve a Public Purpose.
Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Initiative Directing Manner by Which Sales Tax Exemptions are Granted by the Legislature.
No. SC05-1564.
No. SC05-1565.
No. SC05-1566.
No. SC05-1833.
No. SC05-1834.
No. SC05-1835.
Supreme Court of Florida.
March 22, 2007.

[953 So.2d 476]

Bill McCollum, Attorney General, Louis F. Hubener, Chief Deputy Solicitor General, and Lynn C. Hearn, Deputy Solicitor General, Tallahassee, FL, for Petitioner.

Robert L. Nabors and David G. Tucker of Nabors, Giblin and Nickerson, P.A., Tallahassee, FL, for Floridians Against Inequities in Rates, Sponsor.

Cynthia S. Tunnicliff and Howard E. Adams of Pennington, Moore, Wilkinson, Bell and Dunbar, P.A., and Dan R. Stengle, Victoria L. Weber and David L. Powell of Hopping Green and Sams, P.A., Tallahassee, FL, on behalf of Florida Association of Realtors, Inc.; Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Florida Retail Federation; Florida Chamber of Commerce, Inc.; Florida Association of Broadcasters; Florida Manufacturers Association; National Federation of Independent Businesses, Inc.; Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Inc.; Florida Minerals and Chemistry Council, Inc.; Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, Inc.; Florida Cattlemen's Association, Inc.; Sunshine State Milk Producers, Inc.; Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association; Printing Association of Florida and Florida Bankers Association; for Opponents.

ANSTEAD, J.


In 2004, this Court considered and rejected for ballot placement a citizen's initiative previously prepared by Floridians Against Inequities in Rates (FAIR) in Advisory Opinion to the Attorney General re Fairness Initiative Requiring Legislative Determination that Sales Tax Exemptions and Exclusions Serve a Public Purpose, 880 So.2d 630 (Fla.2004) (Fairness Initiative). In an effort to avoid the single subject and ballot summary problems addressed in Fairness Initiative, FAIR has now filed three separate initiative petitions for our mandatory review pursuant to certification from the Attorney General:

SC05-1564: Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non-Taxed Services Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Public Purpose, hereinafter "Extending Sales Tax to Services"

SC05-1565: Initiative Requiring Legislative Determination that Sales Tax Exemptions Serve Public Purpose, hereinafter "Sales Tax Public Purpose Determination"

SC05-1566: Initiative Directing Manner by Which Sales Tax Exemptions are Granted by the Legislature, hereinafter "Initiative Directing Manner"

Each case also has an accompanying petition relating to whether an accompanying financial impact statement meets the requirements of law (case numbers SC05-1833, SC05-1834, and SC05-1835, respectively). The Court has jurisdiction and we have concluded it is appropriate to consolidate all of these related cases for review. See art. IV, § 10; art. V, § 3(b)(10), Fla.

953 So.2d 477

Const. We address these proposals sequentially, and conclude that all three proposals meet the single subject requirements of the law; however, we conclude the first two fail to meet the ballot summary requirements because of the confusion and uncertainty created by the effect and importance of certain mandatory dates set out in those proposals.

GENERAL LEGAL PRINCIPLES

When the Court renders an advisory opinion concerning a proposed constitutional amendment arising through the citizen initiative process, the Court limits its inquiry to two issues: (1) whether the amendment itself violates the single-subject requirement of article XI, section 3, Florida Constitution; and (2) whether the ballot title and summary violate the clarity requirements of section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes (2006).

In addressing these two issues, the Court's inquiry is governed by several fundamental principles. First, the Court will not address the merits or wisdom of the proposed amendment. Advisory Op. to the Att'y Gen. re Fla. Minimum Wage Amendment, 880 So.2d 636, 639 (Fla.2004). Second, "[t]he Court must act with extreme care, caution, and restraint before it removes a constitutional amendment from the vote of the people." Id. (quoting Askew v. Firestone, 421 So.2d 151, 156 (Fla. 1982)). Specifically, where citizen initiatives are concerned, "[the] Court has no authority to inject itself in the process, unless the laws governing the process have been `clearly and conclusively' violated." Id. (quoting Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Right to Treatment & Rehab. for Non-Violent Drug Offenses, 818 So.2d 491, 498-99 (Fla.2002)). We review the proposed amendments with these cautionary principles in view.

I. SINGLE-SUBJECT RULE

Article XI, section 3, Florida Constitution, sets forth the single subject rule requirement for a proposed constitutional amendment arising via the citizen initiative process:

SECTION 3. Initiative.—The power to propose the revision or amendment of any portion or portions of this constitution by initiative is reserved to the people, provided that, any such revision or amendment, except for those limiting the power of government to raise revenue, shall embrace but one subject and matter directly connected therewith.

(Emphasis added.) This Court has articulated the appropriate test:

The single-subject requirement is a "rule of restraint" that was "placed in the constitution by the people to allow the citizens, by initiative petition, to propose and vote on singular changes in the functions of our governmental structure." Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Prohibiting Pub. Funding of Political Candidates' Campaigns, 693 So.2d 972, 975 (Fla.1997) (quoting Fine v. Firestone, 448 So.2d 984, 988 (Fla.1984)). Specifically, the single-subject rule prevents an amendment from engaging in either of two practices: (a) logrolling, or (b) substantially altering or performing the functions of multiple branches of state government.

The single-subject rule prevents logrolling, "a practice wherein several separate issues are rolled into a single initiative in order to aggregate votes or secure approval of an otherwise unpopular issue." See In re Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen.—Save Our Everglades, 636 So.2d 1336, 1339 (Fla.1994); see also Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Limited Casinos, 644 So.2d 71, 73 (Fla.1994) ("A primary purpose for the single-subject restriction is to prevent `logrolling,' a

953 So.2d 478

practice whereby an amendment is proposed which contains unrelated provisions, some of which electors might wish to support, in order to get an otherwise disfavored provision passed."); Fine, 448 So.2d at 993 ("The purpose of the single-subject requirement is to . . . avoid voters having to accept part of a proposal which they oppose in order to obtain a change which they support."). In addressing this issue, the Court utilizes a "oneness of purpose" standard. See Fine, 448 So.2d at 990 ("[T]he one-subject limitation deal[s] with a logical and natural oneness of purpose. . . ."). A proposed amendment meets this test when it "may be logically viewed as having a natural relation and connection as component parts or aspects of a single dominant plan or scheme. Unity of object and plan is the universal test. . . ." Id. (quoting City of Coral Gables v. Gray, 154 Fla. 881, 19 So.2d 318, 320 (1944)).

Fairness Initiative, 880 So.2d at 633-34. We have further determined that the single-subject rule prevents "a single amendment from substantially altering or performing the functions of multiple branches of government and thereby causing multiple `precipitous' and `cataclysmic' changes in state government." Advisory Op. to the Att'y Gen. re Right to Treatment & Rehab. for Non-Violent Drug Offenses, 818 So.2d 491, 495 (Fla.2002). In addressing this issue, we have explained:

[W]hile most amendments will "affect" multiple branches of government, this fact alone is insufficient to invalidate an amendment on single-subject grounds:

. . . As we explained in detail in [a prior case]:

We recognize that the petition, if passed, could affect multiple areas of government. In fact, we find it difficult to conceive of a constitutional amendment that would not affect other aspects of government to some extent. However, this Court has held that a proposed amendment can meet the single-subject requirement even though it affects multiple branches of government.

Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Fla. Transp. Initiative, 769 So.2d 367, 369-70 (Fla.2000) (emphasis added). Further, "the possibility that an amendment might interact with other parts of the Florida Constitution is not sufficient reason to invalidate the proposed amendment." Limited Casinos, 644 So.2d at 74. The abiding test is as follows:

A proposal that affects several branches of government will not automatically fail; rather, it is when a proposal substantially alters or performs the functions of multiple branches that it violates the single-subject test.

Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Fish & Wildlife Conservation Comm'n, 705 So.2d 1351, 1353-54 (Fla.1998).

Advisory Op. to the Att'y Gen. re Additional Homestead Tax Exemption, 880 So.2d 646, 649-50 (Fla.2004).

II. BALLOT TITLE AND SUMMARY

The Court must also review the ballot title and summary for each proposed amendment to ensure they provide fair notice of the content of the amendment to...

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6 practice notes
  • Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Sch., Inc., No. 1D10–6285.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 6, 2012
    ...Advisory Opinion to the Attorney Gen. re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non–Taxed Servs. Where Exclusion Fails to Serve a Pub. Purpose, 953 So.2d 471, 484 (Fla.2007). Clearly, it was the intent of the Constitutional Revision Commission that drafted the 1998 amendment to article IX, section......
  • Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Sch., Inc., No. 1D10–6285.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 6, 2012
    ...Advisory Opinion to the Attorney Gen. re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non–Taxed Servs. Where Exclusion Fails to Serve a Pub. Purpose, 953 So.2d 471, 484 (Fla.2007). Clearly, it was the intent of the Constitutional Revision Commission that drafted the 1998 amendment to article IX, section......
  • In re Advisory Op. to the Attorney Gen. re Rights of Elec. Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice, Nos. SC15–2150
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 31, 2016
    ...(2015). See Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non–Taxed Servs. Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Pub. Purpose, 953 So.2d 471, 491 (Fla.2007) (concluding that a proposed Financial Impact Statement stating that "[t]he amendment will not have an impact on state and loc......
  • Advisory Opinion re Legis. Dist. Boundaries, No. SC08-1163.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 17, 2009
    ...Opinion to the Attorney General re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non-Taxed Services Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Public Purpose, 953 So.2d 471 (Fla.2007), we held that two financial impact statements complied with Florida law where the statements explained that the probable impact of tw......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
6 cases
  • Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Sch., Inc., No. 1D10–6285.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 6, 2012
    ...Advisory Opinion to the Attorney Gen. re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non–Taxed Servs. Where Exclusion Fails to Serve a Pub. Purpose, 953 So.2d 471, 484 (Fla.2007). Clearly, it was the intent of the Constitutional Revision Commission that drafted the 1998 amendment to article IX, section......
  • Haridopolos v. Citizens for Strong Sch., Inc., No. 1D10–6285.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 6, 2012
    ...Advisory Opinion to the Attorney Gen. re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non–Taxed Servs. Where Exclusion Fails to Serve a Pub. Purpose, 953 So.2d 471, 484 (Fla.2007). Clearly, it was the intent of the Constitutional Revision Commission that drafted the 1998 amendment to article IX, section......
  • In re Advisory Op. to the Attorney Gen. re Rights of Elec. Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice, Nos. SC15–2150
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 31, 2016
    ...(2015). See Advisory Op. to Att'y Gen. re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non–Taxed Servs. Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Pub. Purpose, 953 So.2d 471, 491 (Fla.2007) (concluding that a proposed Financial Impact Statement stating that "[t]he amendment will not have an impact on state an......
  • Advisory Opinion re Legis. Dist. Boundaries, No. SC08-1163.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 17, 2009
    ...Opinion to the Attorney General re Extending Existing Sales Tax to Non-Taxed Services Where Exclusion Fails to Serve Public Purpose, 953 So.2d 471 (Fla.2007), we held that two financial impact statements complied with Florida law where the statements explained that the probable impact of tw......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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