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First responder, state college issues go on ballot

Florida voters will decide whether the state Constitution should mandate death benefits be paid when law enforcement officers, correctional officers, firefighters and other first responders are killed while performing their official duties.

In a 30-7 vote on Monday, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission backed the proposal (Proposal 6002), which will appear as Amendment 7 on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot.

Under the proposal, members of the Florida National Guard and active-duty members of the U.S. military stationed in Florida would also qualify for the death benefits if they are killed while performing their duties.

The constitutional change, if approved by 60 percent of the voters, would also require the state to waive tuition and other fees for surviving spouses or children attending universities or other post-secondary institutions. The ballot measure also would establish “a system of governance” for the 28 state and community colleges in the Constitution. It would mandate that each college be governed by a local board of trustees and that the entire system be supervised by the state Board of Education, which is how the system works now under its current statutory authority.

College advocates support the measure because they say it will put the state college system on an equal constitutional footing with the state university system and public schools, which are already part of the Constitution.

The amendment would also require a supermajority vote by university boards of trustees and the state Board of Governors when raising fees for universities, although it excludes tuition increases.

The News Service of Florida provides journalists, lobbyists, government officials and other civic leaders with comprehensive, objective information about the activities of state government year-round.

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