Ballot Amendments Discussed at October Lunch

Clear differences of opinion were expressed by our speakers at the 2016 Ballot Question Forum, hopefully providing the information needed to cast a vote for all the right reasons.

Clockwise from upper left: Cindy Tindell, Richard Pinsky, Bianca Garza, Virginia Brooks, Fred Scheibl, Bill Perry

Kicked off by moderator Fred Scheibl, who gave an overview of the questions and drilled down on amendments 3 and 5, we had pro and con speakers for the solar amendment (1), medical marijuana (2) and the county sales tax increase.

Amendment 3, which adds totally and permanently disabled first responders to the list of groups getting extra homestead exemptions, is an enabling amendment. If passed, the legislature will have to fill in the details, including the amount of the exemption.

Amendment 5 is a tweak to the previously passed amendment which provides an extra homestead exemption to low income seniors by allowing the exemption to continue, even if rising valuations raise the home value above the $250K threshold.

On the Solar Energy Amendment 1, Cindy Tindell, Vice President of Nextera Energy (parent of Florida Power & Light) explained the amendment from the utilities point of view – that the desire is to not reimburse the retail price of energy to the generating consumer as is now the practice with net metering. Utility generating plants, with all their overhead, are only reimbursed at the wholesale energy price she explained, and it is unfair to treat solar generating consumers more favorably.

Not so fast, said Ackerman public policy manager Richard Pinsky. The energy that flows back into the grid from a net metering device is only returning the energy it has already paid for at the retail price. He compared the situation to a water company charging its customers for rainwater they collected in a barrel.

That the effect of the amendment turns on the pricing model for net metering was enlightening to some, as the ballot language only talks vaguely about “subsidizing the costs of backup power and electric grid access.” An old rule of thumb says that if the effect of an amendment or statute is not easily understood, there is probably a reason – vote no if there is any doubt.

For Medical marijuana amendment 2, which came very close to passing (57.6%) in 2014, Bianca Garza, Communications Director of United for Care made the case for the effectiveness of marijuana derivatives for many medical conditions and the safety and good results that have been experienced in the states that have implemented similar programs.

Opposing the amendment, Virginia Brooks took us through a list of considerations, including non precise administration amounts, sourcing of prescriptions outside of the pharmacy system, use of a prescription drug not vetted through clinical trials, access to the drugs by children in the household, and other potential problems.

Regarding the county sales tax increase to 7%, Bill Perry, CEO of Gunster and the incoming chairman of the PBC Economic Council made the case based on the need for a long list of infrastructure repairs, and the advantages that a sales tax has over borrowing the money with a bond issue.

Opposing the tax, Fred Scheibl, argued that the infrastructure shortfall could have been addressed in the normal budget process but a conscious choice was made to divert Engineering and Public Works funds to other priorities like employee raises (12.5% in 5 years), and the proposal comes on top of the highest property taxes in county history. The sales tax is a “blunt instrument” and will raise the $2.7B whether it is needed or not. A bond on the other hand (which can be used if the tax is defeated) can borrow only enough money to address the really critical needs.

For more information on the ballot amendments and sales tax question, see our voters guide to the ballot questions.

Support Ron Berman For Senate District 30

Show your support for Ron by attending this upcoming Meet & Greet. RSVP to Tom Plante, 561-236-8891.

State and Local Ballot Questions at October Lunch

Please Join us on Wednesday, October 26, for
Print the Meeting Handout

– Should the county raise the sales tax to 7%?
– Should marijuana be legalized for those with certain medical conditions?
– Should solar energy be enshrined in the Florida constitution?

All of these and more at the October lunch. We will have an overview of all the questions, with pro/con speakers on some of them, as well as a few words about the 9 judicial retention elections we are asked to decide and the local judge races.

After a brief description of the ballot questions and the implications of a “yes” or “no” vote on each from moderator Fred Scheibl, we will have a set of speakers present their arguments in favor or opposed to some of the issues.

Speaking in favor of Amendment 1 (Solar Energy) will be Cindy Tindell, Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions at NextEra Energy, the parent company of Florida Power and Light. She has deep regulated utility experience having led Florida Power & Light utility’s development and construction planning. Cindy is also the PBCGOP Committeewoman to the Republican Party of Florida and a member of this club.
Speaking against Amendment 1 will be Richard Pinsky, Public Policy Manager at Akerman, LLP. Richard has over 30 years of government affairs experience in Florida and Washington, D.C. He has an extensive background representing clients before the legislature as well as local government from helping to navigate the budget and appropriation process to issue advocacy. In the 1980s he was a campaign consultant to the RNC, the NRSC and the NRCC, and has served as general consultant to several statewide candidate campaigns and ballot initiatives.

Speaking in favor of Amendment 2 (Medical Marijuana) will be Raymer Maguire IV, Deputy Campaign Manager for People United for Medical Marijuana, a part of United for Care, the national organization that advocates for the issue in all the states. Raymer was a founding partner of Millenium Partners, LLC, advancing the millennial agenda by providing data focused consulting and project management, where he organized community leaders in South Florida to lobby on behalf of underprivileged students.
Speaking against Amendment 2 will be Virginia Brooks, a founder of the PBC Faith and Freedom Coalition. Virginia is active in local grassroots organizations, retired from being an associate professor of English at Palm Beach State College, and an interpreter for the deaf at her church. Virginia is also a member of this club.

Sales Tax
Speaking in favor of the county sales tax question will be Bill Perry, CEO of the Gunster Law Firm and incoming chairman of the PBC Economic Council which is campaigning for the tax increase. Bill practices real estate and business law, specializing in complex commercial and financial transactions. As a member of the Florida Chamber Foundation, he helped launch the Six Pillar Initiative and worked with the Economic Council to introduce it to Palm Beach County, resulting in a PBC strategic plan in 2013.
Speaking against the county sales tax will be Fred Scheibl, co-founder of the county budget watchdog PBC Taxpayer Action Board, which has been providing analysis of the county budget to its coalition partners since 2010, advocating for fiscal responsibility by county leaders. Fred is a founding member of the Palm Beach County Tea Party and a member of this club.
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Program Noon – 1PM, Buffet starts at 11:30AM

Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center

Palm Beach Airport
1301 Belvedere Road
West Palm Beach, FL 33405

$25/Members $30/Guests
Pay at the door.

Make sure you submit your RSVP in advance by clicking on our link below:

or by emailing, or by calling 561-855-0749.
  Please respect Club rules: Cell Phones Silenced, Business Casual Attire, Please No Jeans
Republican Club of the Palm Beaches
PO Box 2585
West Palm Beach, FL 33402
(561) 855-0749