Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission will spend the next roughly 14 months traveling the state listening to residents, identifying and researching issues. No later than 120 days prior to the November 2018 elections, the Commission will recommend ballot language to the Secretary of State.
The Commission has meetings in Gainesville on April 26, in Jacksonville on April 27 and in Panama City on May 3.
“This promises to be an interesting and arduous process for us as Constitution Revision Commission members and one of the highlights of my professional life,” CRC Commissioner Bob Solari told Historic City News local reporters. “Every member hopes their service will, in the end, strengthen our state Constitution.”
To date, the Constitution Revision Commission has held 4 public hearings, in Orlando, Miami, Boca Raton and Tallahassee. Approximately 1000 people have attended, and nearly 320 people have discussed over 60 different issues.
Presently there are more questions than answers; however, a few issues stand out in the early innings of the process:
- The environment and education are of particular interest to the people of Florida.
- The political process is also important, as attested to by the number of comments heard so far supporting both an Independent Redistricting Commission and open primaries.
- In a year when Home Rule appears to be under assault, the number of local officials speaking up to preserve Home Rule and local control of local governments is not surprising.
- Many have supported the return of civil rights to felons who have served their time; or, at least the civil rights of those felons who did not commit a violent crime.
- Many also spoke on Article 1 Section 23, which deals with privacy. A large group asserts that this provision was expanded from a desired right to informational privacy to a provision distorted by judicial activists who found an unauthorized right to abortion. This view was countered by many who believe that the judges simply found an appropriate woman’s right to the privacy of her own body.
Another area of interest and concern to participants, which will not be on the ballot, deals with the operation of the Constitution Revision Commission, itself:
- People want the process to be open and transparent and the Constitution Revision Commission members subject to rigorous sunshine requirements.
- They also want the records of the Constitution Revision Commission to be open to all and readily accessible.
- Finally, they want the Commission to return to as many communities as possible to discuss the proposals that the Constitution Revision Commission recommends.
“As an Indian River County Commissioner who has long supported the most open and transparent government possible and one who is comfortable operating in the bright Florida sunshine, I find the requests of these speakers to be both wise and reasonable,” Solari said. “These issues will be discussed and hopefully voted on in May.”
- Will the issues that were important in Miami and Boca Raton be like those of the residents of Jacksonville and Panama City?
- Of the many concerns of Floridians; which are appropriate to be addressed in the Constitution, which by legislation, and which by no action at all?
- And of course, what will be the actual proposals made by the Constitution Revision Commission, which voters will find on their November ballots?
Finding the answer to these questions will make for a very exciting year.
Pursuant to Article XI, Section 2 of Florida’s Constitution, every 20 years 37 Floridians get together to propose amendments to the state constitution. The 37 members of the most recent Constitution Revision Commission where sworn in on March 20, in Tallahassee.