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Proposed: Florida Constitutional Amendment 13 Ends Dog Racing 

Amendment 13: Ends Dog Racing

Ballot summary: “Phases out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities are not affected."

Florida voters could face twelve different proposed amendments to the state Constitution on Nov. 6 – one of the longest lists ever. The amendments include complex changes to tax policy, banning offshore oil drilling and greyhound racing, expanding gambling, automatically restoring voting rights for ex-felons, setting new rules on lobbying, and whether Florida should ban vaping in public places.

Some of the amendments “bundle” several different ideas into one, meaning voters may be forced to vote for something they don’t like in order to approve something they want, or vice versa. (Three of the amendments are mired in a legal challenge that’s before the Florida Supreme Court)

What it’s about?

Amendment 13 would end greyhound racing in Florida by the year 2020. It would not affect other existing types of gambling.

Florida has more dog tracks (11) than any state in the U.S. Greyhound racing is already illegal in 40 states. The sport has dwindled in popularity, but because of a long-ago legislative deal, Florida requires all gambling operations that want to offer slots, card games, or other wagering to also have greyhound racing on site.

State investigations have found cruelty, including racing dog injuries and deaths.  Dogs have tested positive for cocaine and are sometimes given steroids. They are stacked in cages for most of the time except when racing.

The greyhound racing industry says the cruelty claims are exaggerated, but has also fought against proposals that would require that tracks report dog racing injuries.

Who’s for it?

Anti-racing group Grey2K, The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Lara Trump, the Doris Day Animal League, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Florida U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz and many others.

Who’s against it?

The Florida Greyhound Association (breeders, racing dog owners, and kennel operations).

Other key points:

Opponents of dog racing have tried for many years to get the Florida Legislature to simply undo the state mandate that forces gambling operations to also offer dog racing, but have never been able to get legislators to do it. That’s why they mounted a campaign to propose Amendment 13 for the ballot.

Amendment 13 needs 60 percent approval to pass.

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book - Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles - comes out this fall.

This piece appeared in the Florida Phoenix and was reprinted by the Columbia County Observer with permission or license.

Graphics and layout by the Observer

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