TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge on Thursday ruled that a proposed dog racing amendment should be removed from this year’s ballot, saying that the measure misleads voters.
Circuit Judge Karen Gievers sided with a group representing greyhound owners and breeders who argued that the impact of the amendment went far beyond the description that would be given to voters in November. It was placed on the ballot by the state’s Constitutional Revision Commission.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, a commission member who is a big proponent of the proposal, said in a statement that “we will appeal this decision immediately and seek an expedited review by the Florida Supreme Court.”
For years, the fate of Florida’s greyhound industry has been heavily debated by state legislators. Opponents of dog racing have argued that it is time to end the sport in the state, while supporters have countered that such a move would throw thousands of people out of work.
The commission, a panel appointed every 20 years to suggest changes to Florida’s constitution, agreed this spring to take the issue directly to the state’s voters.
If passed by 60 percent of voters, the amendment known as Amendment 13 would prohibit betting on live dog racing. Gievers, however, agreed with lawyers from the Florida Greyhound Association that the wording given to voters did not clearly explain what it does.
For example, voters would not be told that the state’s existing dog tracks could eliminate dog racing and still be allowed to offer other types of gambling. Additionally, tracks could still accept bets on dog races occurring in other states even though the first words of the amendment say it would “end dog racing.”
“In short, proposed Amendment 13 is misleading and inaccurate and incomplete, while adding up to a ’hide the ball,” ‘fly a false flag’ and outright ‘trickeration,’” wrote Gievers in her opinion.
During a court hearing, lawyers for the state had argued that voters would understand the intent of the measure.