Commission brings constitutional revision hearing to Jacksonville

Florida commission that meets every 20 years is considering 37 proposals

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After considering more than 100 proposals in committees, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is taking its meetings on the road. Tuesday afternoon, it will hold a public hearing at the University of North Florida.

It may sound like the ultimate bureaucratic discussion, but members will be talking about a variety of issues that some area voters may care passionately about. Should your county school superintendent be appointed rather than elected (this affects in Bradford, Clay, Columbia, Nassau and Union counties)? Should Florida taxpayer money be spent on religious schools? Should the state put an end to live greyhound racing?

The 37-member commission, which meets every 20 years and has the ability to place constitutional amendments on the general election ballot, is holding five "Road to the Ballot" regional meetings in communities across the state. From 1-7 p.m. Tuesday, the commission will hold a public hearing at the University of North Florida’s Adam W. Herbert University Center.

Over the past few months, 10 committees have been reviewing most of the 103 proposals filed by members of the commission.

As the regional hearing began, some 37 proposals have been forwarded to the full commission. Another 30 proposals were withdrawn and will not be considered again, and 27 proposals were rejected in committee votes.

Under commission rules, a rejected proposal could be revived by a majority vote of the full commission.

Another nine so-called “shell” proposals, which are void of specific language but pertain to general areas like education or local government, are pending in the committees. Those measures could be advanced to the floor, where they could be amended with specific proposals.

Among the measures moving to the commission floor are Proposal 72, sponsored by Commissioner Fred Karlinsky of Weston, that would require two-thirds votes by the Legislature before raising taxes or fees. The proposal, which is also being considered in the ongoing legislative session, is a top priority for Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes.

Other measures moving to the full commission include:

  • Proposal 4, by Commissioner Roberto Martinez of Coral Gables, that would remove the state Constitution’s so-called “no-aid” provision, which relates to public spending on religiously affiliated groups.
  • Proposal 33, by Commissioner Erika Donalds of Naples, that would require all school superintendents to be appointed.
  • Proposal 43, by Donalds, that would impose an eight-year term limit on school board members.
  • Proposal 29, by Commissioner Rich Newsome of Orlando, that would require businesses licensed in the state to use E-Verify or a similar system to prevent hiring undocumented immigrants.
  • Proposal 41, by Commissioner Bill Schifino of Tampa, that would increase the mandatory retirement age for judges to 75, up from the current 70.
  • Proposal 54, by Commissioner Frank Kruppenbacher of Orlando, that would eliminate the “certificate of need” regulatory process, which can restrict construction of hospitals, nursing homes and hospice facilities.
  • Proposal 65, by Commissioner Lisa Carlton of Sarasota, that would ban vaping in workplaces, similar to the state’s workplace smoking ban.
  • Proposal 67, by Commissioner Tom Lee of Thonotosassa, that would ban live greyhound racing.
  • Proposal 83, by Commissioner Nicole Washington of Miami Beach, that would provide constitutional authority for the state college system, while keeping the colleges under the supervision of the state Board of Education.

After the last of the five regional public hearings, the commission’s Rules and Administration Committee, chaired by Commissioner Tim Cerio of Tallahassee, will begin setting a calendar for floor sessions that will start sometime in March.

Proposals on the floor must receive at least a majority vote to advance to the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, chaired by Commissioner Brecht Heuchan of Tallahassee.

The style and drafting panel will play a key role in refining the proposals and creating ballot titles. The committee will also decide whether to let proposals stand as individual items or to group several proposals into a single ballot items.

Proposals approved by the Style and Drafting Committee will return to the full commission where they must receive at least 22 votes from the 37-member group to be placed on the November 2018 ballot.

Proposals placed on the ballot will need support from at least 60 percent of the voters to be enacted.

The Constitution Revision Commission has a May 10 deadline to finish its work.

About the Authors: