Amendment 7 passes, adding benefits to spouses of first responders

New law also adds state colleges to Florida Constitution

By Nathaniel Rivas - Digital Intern
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MEXICO BEACH, FL - OCTOBER 18: Sarasota County firefighters Ryan Zahniser (L) and Patrick Sherman fold a flag recovered from a pile of debris left by Hurricane Michael on October 18, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Florida. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Amendment 7 on Florida's ballot passed with more than 60 percent of the vote on Tuesday.

The new amendment grants death benefits for spouses of first responders and military members, creates a new voting system that requires a super majority vote for changing college fees and adds the current structure of state colleges to the Florida Constitution.

The definition of first responders now includes the following: firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), law enforcement officers, correctional officers, correctional probation officers and members of the Florida National Guard.

The state will have to give death benefits to surviving spouses of active-duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces who are accidentally killed or unlawfully and intentionally killed. These benefits will extend to members of the military who are residents of Florida or are stationed in Florida. Certain educational expenses will also be waived for the surviving children or spouse of the first responder or military member. 

The new voting system to change a college fee requires a nine-member vote of a university's 13-member board of trustees and a 12-member vote of a 17-member state board of governors. However, the new super majority system does not include tuition. 

The current state college system will be added to the Florida Constitution. This recognizes community colleges as state colleges. A local board of trustees will be appointed to govern the individual institutions.

For more information on amendments, click here.

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