Voters pass ban on offshore drilling, indoor vaping

An amendment that will ban offshore drilling and treated the public use of e-cigarettes like their analogue cousins was approved by Florida voters in Tuesday’s elections.

Amendment 9 was among a dozen initiatives Floridians considered in the ballot booth on Tuesday, and one of seven ballot questions green-lit by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

Amendment 9 rarely polled above the Mendoza line. Last week, a St. Pete Polls survey put the proposal on track to fail, with 46 percent of voters saying they were in the “Yes” column and 40 percent saying they were firmly in the “No” camp. It’s only ray of hope was to run the table on undecideds.

In the end, it did. And then some.

As of 8:40 p.m., Amendment 9 was up 69-31 percent with more than 6.8 million votes counted. Constitutional amendments must garner 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The proposed amendment served as the poster child for the many curious combos made by the CRC. For environmentally conscious cloud chasers in particular, the measure was something of a Sophie’s Choice: Jettison their JUULs and conserve Florida’s coastlines, or keep puffing and put them in peril.

Despite Amendment 9’s two prongs being of inequitable importance to most, that pairing wasn’t a poison pill.

Still, its passage doesn’t mean Florida’s making as any less “drill, baby, drill” than it was yesterday. There are already measures in Florida statute that prevent oil companies from taking root on the parts of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts that fall under state jurisdiction.

The current law: “No permit to drill a gas or oil well shall be granted at a location in the tidal waters of the state, abutting or immediately adjacent to the corporate limits of a municipality or within 3 miles of such corporate limits extending from the line of mean high tide into such waters, unless the governing authority of the municipality shall have first duly approved the application for such permit by resolution.”

Amendment 9 won’t bring too many changes to vaping either, at least not right away. Since that provision only applied to “enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions,” vapers used to taking drags in their favorite dive bar will still be able to, so long as MGMT is on board.

Where some substantial changes could come from is through another provision included in that ballot allowing Florida counties and cities to draw up “more restrictive local vapor ordinances.”

According to the full text of the amendment, it will go into effect “no later than July 1 of the year following voter approval.”

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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