SOURCE ALERT: Miami Law Experts Weigh In on Amendments 1, 3 & 5

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On November 8, Florida voters will decide on a proposed solar energy amendment. The initiative is seeking to add to what the state Constitution currently allows “establishing a right under Florida’s constitution for consumers to own or lease solar equipment installed on their property to generate electricity for their own use.”

Professor Felix Mormann

Professor Felix Mormann is a nationally recognized expert in energy law, environmental law, and corporate law. His scholarship explores the legal, policy, and financial challenges along the path to an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. He is Faculty Fellow at Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance. Mormann recently released “A Tale of Three Markets: Comparing the Solar and Wind Deployment Experiences of California, Texas, and Germany” in the Stanford Environmental Law Journal with a team of energy experts at Stanford’s Steyer-Taylor Center. 

The Florida Legislature is also asking voters to approve two Amendments that would provide property tax relief to disabled first responders and the elderly poor. Miami Law’s Stephen Schnably explains what is so troubling about such laudable causes.

Schnably is a professor of law at the University of Miami School of Law. He teaches courses in property and constitutional law, and served as co-counsel for homeless people in the landmark Pottinger v. City of Miami case.

  How does Amendment 1 tie into larger national conversations about energy, climate change, and renewable resources?

Mormann: Amendment 1, if adopted, would mark yet another stumble along Florida’s painfully slow journey toward a sustainable energy future.  Already, Florida lags behind most states in the union in terms of installed solar capacity, largely as the result of a policy landscape that does little to promote solar and other renewable sources of energy. 

Read the full q&a with Mormann.

Professor Stephen Schnably

So a “yes” vote on Amendments 3 and 5 means property tax relief for disabled first responders and low-income elderly?
Schnably: Probably. Even if the voters approve Amendment 3, it would only authorize the Legislature to enact property tax relief for disabled first-responders. In theory, the Legislature might do nothing. On the other hand, the Legislature was unanimous in deciding to put Amendment 3 on the ballot, so expect action if the Amendment passes. 

The Legislature has already enacted implementing legislation for Amendment 5, which will take effect if the voters approve the Amendment. But keep in mind that the section of the Florida Constitution that Amendment 5 modifies merely authorizes counties and cities to put the basic exemption in place through local legislation. According to an analysis by the Florida Legislature, only 25 out of 67 counties offer the exemption (though there are also 13 counties in which at least one city offers it).

Read the full q&a with Schnably.