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Judge decries ‘outright trickeration’ on Florida ballot

August 2, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi wants the state Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that a dog-racing amendment on this year’s ballot amounts to “outright trickeration.”

A Florida judge ordered the proposed amendment removed, saying that the measure was crafted to mislead 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.

Bondi, a commission member and 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.”

The fate of Florida’s greyhound racing industry has been debated by legislators for years. 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 voters.

If passed by 60 percent of voters, the amendment known as Amendment 13 would prohibit betting on live dog racing.

Lawyers for the state argued that voters would understand the intent. But the judge agreed with the Florida Greyhound Association’s lawyers that the ballot wording doesn’t 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 in other states, even though the first words of the amendment say it would “end dog racing.”

“In short,” Gievers wrote in her opinion published Wednesday, “proposed Amendment 13 is misleading and inaccurate and incomplete, while adding up to a ’hide the ball,” ‘fly a false flag’ and outright ‘trickeration.’”

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