Did You Know . . .?

. . . that the constitution provides for Florida's own army and air force?

In fact, Florida has the oldest militia in the United States, formed on September 16, 1565, when the Spanish admiral in charge of the St. Augustine settlement left with his troops but designated the civilians left behind as the milicia. Today's Governor is commander-in-chief of a modern, well-equipped Florida Army National Guard of 11,751 troops and Florida Air Guard of 1,729 men and women, most of them part-time "weekend warriors." In the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, a peak force of 6,300 Florida Guard personnel helped civil authorities in South Florida.

. . . that the constitution requires a state seal and flag but leaves their design up to statute law?

The 1968 constitutional change was the result of embarrassing inaccuracies of the seal design required in the 1885 constitution. That design included an Indian woman, dressed as a Plains Indian; a sidewheel steamship that appeared to be sinking; a bag of coffee, never a prime Florida crop; a cocoa palm instead of the state's Sabal palm; and in the background loomed a mountain range far more impressive than Florida's maximum elevation of 345 feet. Today's seal contains none of these mistakes and can be updated by a simple majority vote of both houses of the legislature.

. . . that the constitution exempts most mobile homes from paying ad valorem property taxes?

Floridians lived in over a half-million mobile homes, counted in the 1990 census, but those in rental parks pay no tax other than an annual license fee and a sales tax when buying the mobile home. Mobile homes enjoy this exemption, along with such transportation-related vehicles as airplanes, boats, trucks, and trailers. The exemption for mobile homes was adopted in 1947 when they more closely resembled travel trailers and few were year-round homes permanently fixed on a lot; the exemption was reaffirmed in a special election in 1965.