Saying it “hide(s) the ball” and calling it “outright ‘trickeration,’ ” a Tallahassee judge has ruled that a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending dog racing shouldn’t go on the November ballot.
Circuit Judge Karen Gievers, in a decision released Wednesday, in part said Amendment 13’s ballot title and summary would mislead voters into believing a ‘yes’ vote was an outright ban on greyhound racing.
The amendment bans betting on live dog racing in Florida, and doesn’t make clear that trackgoers in Florida could still bet on dog races outside Florida, for example. Live racing is still conducted at 11 tracks in the state.
It also doesn’t make clear, Gievers added, that a vote for the amendment is a vote for other gambling – such as slot machines – to continue at certain tracks.
Gievers said the amendment was “clearly and conclusively defective,” a legal standard developed by the Supreme Court to justify keeping proposed amendments off the ballot. The measure doesn’t provide voters with the “ ’truth in packaging’ to which they are entitled,” she wrote.
The measure was slated for the November ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). Amendments need no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.
The Florida Greyhound Association, which represents breeders and owners who oppose Amendment 13, had sued to prevent it from appearing on the statewide ballot.
“Judge Gievers was very thorough in her ruling,” said Jack Cory, lobbyist and spokesman for the association. “The state of Florida should not use taxpayer dollars to appeal this case.
“The proponents got a donation of $1.5 million last week,” he said, referring to a large donation from the Doris Day Animal League. “If the proponents want to appeal the ruling, they should use their own money, not (that of) taxpayers.”
The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, which formed to push for the amendment’s passage, said the legal challenge isn’t over.
“This is a process that will end with a decision by the Florida Supreme Court,” the campaign said in a statement. “This is the first step on a long road, and we are confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the amendment.”
The campaign further called the suit “a desperate attempt to prevent voters from having a voice on whether greyhound confinement and deaths should continue. It was filed because greyhound breeders know that when Amendment 13 appears on the ballot, Floridians will vote ‘yes’ for the dogs.”