Sen. Lee on CRC process: “The Legislature is compromised in ways this commission isn’t”

by | Mar 19, 2018

After months of traveling the state, listening to the public and discussing a variety of proposed changes to the state constitution, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission entered its final phase Monday morning–deciding which proposals to put on the November ballot for voters to consider. It’s a process that could run into early May

The commission has narrowed its original list of more than 100 proposed amendments to 37, which it will spend the next week debating and voting on.

The first amendment to be considered Monday was Proposal 49.

“I really do mean it when I say that this is our first big test,” said Commissioner Jose Felix Diaz, a former state.

Proposal 49 would guarantee death benefits for the families of first responders and certain military personnel. It immediately sparked a discussion that was inevitable: what’s the threshold for amending the Florida Constitution?

Diaz says it is a noble idea, but one that shouldn’t be written into the state’s constitution.

“There’s going to be a lot of issues that are going to come before us that are going to require us to vote, not based on what’s altruistic and noble, but based on what should be in the Constitution,” said Diaz. “That’s the threshold question for me.”

Some of those issues before the CRC involve imposing gun control measures, expanding rights of crime victims, banning greyhound racing and offshore oil drilling, placing term limits on school board members, and requiring school superintendents to be appointed and not elected.

“It’s our duty to make sure  proposals do not get in front of the voters that are things that should not be in the Constitution,” said Commissioner Patricia Levesque. “Things that can be amply handled in statute.”

But, Commissioner Tom Lee, who is also a current member of the Senate and is a former Senate president, says Floridians can’t always rely the Legislature to follow the will of voters.

“The Legislature is compromised in ways this commission isn’t. I’ve seen a lot in my time in the Legislature and there are reasons things will never get out of the Florida Legislature. It’s much easier to kill something than it is to pass it,” said Lee. “Some days I feel like a first responder seeing the sausage made and it leaves a scar on you.”

In an op-ed article sent to the media this week, former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Major Harding urged the commission “to exercise restraint and reject proposals that detract from the Florida Constitution’s purpose.”

“A constitution is like the foundation of a house, and statutes are like the exterior and finishes built upon that foundation,” added Harding, represents a group called Keep Our Constitution Clean, a group of concerned businesses and Floridians that urges the commission to reject proposals that detract from the Florida Constitution’s purpose.

One commissioner argues the state’s constitution is unique–a document that its authors intended to be revised. Commissioner Rich Newsome says that’s why they created the CRC process.

“Unlike the federal constitution, Florida’s Constitution is different. It is a living document,” said Newsome. “This is unique and I would suggest that this document is not so rigid that it prevents good public policy if the people want it and if there’s consensus, which is why we held hearings.”

The proposed amendments approvedl by the CRC this week will be sent to the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, which will have the task of refining the wording of the proposals approved by the CRC over the next week-and-a-half. The committee will also write ballot titles for each amendment and decide whether amendments should be consolidated.

The full commission will then return to Tallahassee on April 16 to make its final decision on the proposals. Members will have until May 4 to finish their work.

In order for a proposed amendment to earn a spot on the November ballot, it must receive 22 votes from the commission’s 37 members. To win passage in November, a proposal would need 60 percent support from voters.



  1. Richard Marcoux

    I want to know why members of the crc who took donations from an out of state radical animal group and one of the founders. They should recuse for conflict of interest. As far as Senator Lee I am sure he has seen and been a part of underhanded stuffvthat goes on at the capital after all he is friends and business associates of a person praised by a group labeled as domestic terrorist by the FBI

  2. Fred Barton

    It should surprise no one that the greyhound racing industry is attacking people like Senator Lee and others who support the ending of greyhound racing. Because they cannot speak directly to the issue of treating innocent living creatures as commodities whose only value comes in their ability to make money for their owners, they must find ways to divert, dissemble and deflect from that issue. Those of us who want to end this barbaric “sport” should not allow them to hide the fundamental truth of greyhound racing behind misleading rhetoric.

    I am a Board member of GREY2K USA Worldwide, an organization that fights to save these marvelous creatures all over the globe. (you can learn more about us here: I have fostered and adopted rescued racing greyhounds since 1995. I cannot imagine abandoning any of them when they become injured, old or sick and yet this is routinely what happens to them at operating tracks and will continue to happen as long as racing is allowed to exist.
    Fred Barton
    Board Member
    GREY2K USA Worldwide

    • steven M Grabarczyk

      You are a charlatan Fred get over yourself you pompous windbag

      • Fred Barton

        Google ad hominum.

    • steven M Grabarczyk

      “I cannot imagine abandoning any of them when they become injured, old or sick and yet this is routinely what happens to them at operating tracks and will continue to happen as long as racing is allowed to exist.”

      But that’s exactly what you did in MA Fred. Not one dime did you give. Also you fail to mention your organization is headed up by a fraud and you have no credibility. Every time you are asked to present your evidence, you decline or defer. You may have thought MA was stupid. For all of you how do you dispute what they did in MA? And after this, can anyone really trust you, the Spin Doctor, or your fraud organization you shill so hard for? People are not that stupid, which is what you count on.

      From the Boston Herald November 6, 2000:
      If you resented the underhanded attempt to besmirch George W. Bush with the resurrection of an incident so
      old it has whiskers, you should be equally appalled by the efforts of a group called Grey2K to wage a ruthless
      campaign of deceit, distortion and defamation of character. Radical animal rights activists are determined to
      kill the greyhound racing industry in this state by any means necessary, which is why they weren’t the least bit
      embarrassed when forced to admit that much of their advertising has been fraudulent.
      So if you go to the polls only to vote no on Question 3, you will have made a compelling statement, rejecting
      this attempt to ambush an industry through the dissemination of lies.

      For those who want FACTS and the TRUTH you can go to OUR site

      • Fred Barton

        I don’t think I could pick a source with less credibility than Grey2kscam. If they told me it was raining, I would look outside before I got my umbrella.

        • Joe T

          like when Grey2K admitted to fraudulent activity to get donation in the Boston Herald and use deceit, distortion of facts, and defamation of character. And your a board member of a scam organization, and your proud of that, you are one sick person, must get along well with the suicidal founder

          • Fred Barton

            It’s like I told Stevie, you folks just keep telling each other what crooks we are, meantime we’ll be ending racing like we’ve been doing ever since Massachusetts.

    • Ryan W

      Lee took money from you and thats all he cares about, pretty sad you dont do anything for greyhounds, Only thing Grey2k does is scam donations by photo shopping pictures, or taking pictures from other countries, not a truth to be found on your site

      • Fred Barton

        For someone who doesn’t care about the greyhounds looks to me like Senator Less has done a lot. He’s moved the issue around a compromised legislature and brought it to the people. I guess that’s what scares you most

  3. steven M Grabarczyk

    Yea when Grey2k gave Matt Gaetz a contribution to his campaign for congress, a position that does not influence Florida law, to show his daddy Don Gaetz who is on the CRC their love, thats not compromised? LOL Tom Lee is crooked as the day is long. What a joke.

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