November 11, 2008
Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) coordinated the efforts of Save Our Waterfronts, a broad-based coalition which was successful in the passage of Amendment 6. This was a critical amendment for our economy as Florida’s marine industry contributes more than $18 million to our state’s economy and provides 220,000 jobs. The measure mandates that “working waterfronts” be taxed at a rate equal to their present property value rather than their “highest and best use” value. The amendment is very narrowly drawn and only applies to properties that meet very specific water-dependent criteria. On November 4th over 4.7 million Floridians (slightly over 70%) voted in favor of Amendment 6, thereby shattering the 60 percent requirement for adoption. Amendment 6 received more favorable votes than any other constitutional amendment that appeared on the ballot!
After coming close to dealing with the problem during last year’s legislative session, AIF and other interested parties began the long process of engaging the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC) in an effort to have them include this proposal in the package of amendments approved by this powerful body. The business community worked hard to get the necessary votes and on April 24, 2008, the proposal was passed by a 24 to 1 margin. Next came the most difficult task – passing the amendment by the required 60 percent margin.
Once approval by the TBRC was achieved, AIF and its Chief Lobbyist Keyna Cory mobilized an industry-wide coalition of businesses, local governments, and associations under the name of “Save Our Waterfronts.” This not-for-profit organization was created for the primary task of getting Amendment 6 passed and to work with the Florida Legislature on the necessary legislation to implement this amendment.
The Save our Waterfronts Coalition quickly grew to represent over 30 businesses and associations from across the state. Former State Representative Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) agreed to serve as its Chairperson and 9 Senators and 34 Representatives, including incoming Senate President Jeff Atwater, Speaker Ray Sansom, and Rep. Franklin Sands, incoming Democratic Leader, signed on as supporters of Amendment 6.
Undertaking a true grassroots approach, the Save our Waterfronts Coalition embarked on a massive educational and earned media campaign through the use of letters to the editor, editorials, and television interviews. All in all, the Amendment 6 campaign saw an incredible number of media impression over the last couple of months. This was all achieved under a “shoe string” budget of approximately $76,000.00.
The Coalition put out a number of color handouts, ads, fliers, paycheck inserts, and yard signs to get the word out. AIF played a major role in the design of a logo and all printed materials. A sampling of the printed materials is included with this memo. The Save Our Waterfronts website was also a huge success. You can view the website by visiting: www.saveourwaterfronts.org.