Constitution Revision Commission prepares for final vote on proposed amendments

by | Apr 16, 2018

After spending the past year conducting public hearings and listening to Floridians, holding committee hearings and debating more than 100 proposed changes to the state constitution, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission begins meeting Monday morning to officially decide which proposed amendments to place on the November ballot.

As required by the constitution, the CRC is appointed every 20 years and is tasked with the job of looking at what changes might be needed to the constitution. The panel has narrowed the list to a dozen amendments, some including more than one topic, that they will consider this week.

The bundling of proposals has drawn criticism from some groups who claim some of the more popular proposals have been paired with proposals that are less favorable in an effort to get the measures before voters in November.

In total, the 12 amendments being considered include 24 proposals. Half of the amendments stand on their own, the other half bundle together two proposals. For instance, one proposal would ban offshore oil drilling and would also add vaping to the indoor smoking ban. Another pairs a requirement that civics education be expanded in public schools with proposals that would allow the state–in addition to local school boards–to authorize charter schools, as well as place term limits on school board members.

Some members of the CRC have expressed their views against the bundling of proposals. In a letter written to the chairman of the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, which is responsible for writing the amendments, CRC member Henry Coxe raised his objections.

“We owe the citizens of this state the opportunity to decide on each individual proposal as to whether that proposal should become part of our Constitution,” wrote Coxe, a Jacksonville lawyer. “An effort to group one proposal with another could easily be perceived as a political decision to protect one from being hurt by another, or to bootstrap one with a popular proposal.”

To make the ballot, an amendment must receive the support of 22 of the panels 37 members. Some of the measures failed to meet that mark during preliminary votes last month which means some of the 12 proposals could fail to make the ballot in the CRC’s final vote.

Four of the proposals–a requirement that businesses check the immigration status of employees, a ban on greyhound racing, a prohibition on naming state buildings after current elected officials, and the elimination of the write-in loophole in elections– fell short of the 22 votes when they were taken up last month.

Some of the commission’s members said they supported the bundling of amendments in an effort to save voters time when they enter the voting booth in November. If all 12 of the CRC’s proposals make the ballot, they would join five other citizens’ initiatives that have already cleared the regular process for making it on the ballot. That means the possibility of 17 amendments for voters to consider, which raises concern about long lines at the polls come November as voters try to read and understand all of the proposals they could be asked to add to the Florida Constitution.

How many amendment the CRC will place on the ballot will be known in the next few days.


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