Single subject proposal re-emerges for 2020 session

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Ballot measures proposed by the state Constitution Revision Commission would be limited to single subjects, under legislation slated to again go before lawmakers in 2020.

Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, on Friday filed a proposal (SJR 176) that would place a single-subject requirement on proposed constitutional amendments offered by the Constitution Revision Commission.

In 2018, the 37-member commission, primarily made up of appointees of the governor and state House and Senate leaders, put seven amendments on the ballot, including several that were comprised of multiple topics.

One of the "bundled" proposals, for example, called for banning offshore oil drill and banning vaping in workplaces.

The commission meets every 20 years to consider changes to the state Constitution. The panel's proposals last year -- which were approved by voters -- drew ire from lawmakers of both parties because of the decisions to combine seemingly unrelated topics in amendments.

As another example, one proposal dealt with payment of death benefits for first responders killed while performing official duties and the creation of a governance system for the 28 state and community colleges.

The Senate during the 2019 legislative session approved legislation that would have placed a single-subject requirement on the commission's ballot proposals, but the issue did not pass the House.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, also has filed legislation (SJR 142) for the 2020 session that would do away with the commission.

If approved by the Legislature, the single-subject requirement or elimination of the commission would have to go before voters because the proposals would involve changing the Constitution.

The 2020 session starts in January.