Take notice of ballot initiatives

This coming November, Florida voters will have to vote once again on various ballot initiatives that most probably know very little about. Many of these initiatives are, as usual, wrapped in the arcane language of politics and deal with such dull and tedious matters as amending the state constitution. And to make matters worse, those initiatives require that a voter know the Florida state constitution in order to make an educated vote.

But do not fear, all of you voters who are too lazy to research what you are voting on. Some of the issues on the ballot do in fact deal with tangible, every day situations that make it fairly easy to formulate an opinion. For example, there will be an initiative on the November ballot that will amend the state constitution’s stance on smoking. The amendment would prohibit tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor working places, allowing exceptions for retail tobacco shops, designated smoking guest rooms at hotels, bars and other such public establishments.

This initiative, if passed, will be a big step in making the air cleaner for non-smokers. After all, everyone should not have to pay for one person’s addiction. However, at the same time, people who do smoke may not feel the same way. In a country that seems to be restricting smokers from pursuing their habit at every turn, many smokers may feel that they are being ostracized and that their personal freedom is being curtailed.

Also on the ballot is an amendment that will require that the state legislature, and not the local school districts, provide funding for sufficient classroom sizes so that there would be a maximum number of students in public school classes for various grade levels. If passed, the amendment would require compliance by the beginning of the 2010 school year.

It seems that few would disagree with this amendment. Setting a maximum number on class size would eradicate the overcrowding that helps make Florida’s schools some of the worst in the nation. If (and hopefully when) this amendment passes, perhaps Florida citizens will finally see some of the changes in schools that Jeb Bush promised but never delivered.