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Senators back abolishing Florida Constitution Revision Commission

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With little discussion, a Senate committee Tuesday launched a new attempt to abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a measure (SJR 142), sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that would ask voters in 2020 to do away with the powerful commission. The proposal is filed for consideration during the legislative session that starts in January.

The 37-member Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years, became highly controversial last year as it put seven issues on the November 2018 ballot.

In part, that controversy stemmed from "bundling" unrelated issues in proposed constitutional amendments.

For example, the commission proposed an amendment that called for a ban on offshore oil drilling and a ban on vaping in workplaces.

All seven of the commission's proposals passed.

While much of the criticism of the commission centered on bundling, Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, also pointed to concerns Tuesday about a wide range of policy and budget issues being added to the state Constitution.

The Senate during the 2019 legislative approved a Brandes proposal to abolish the commission, but the proposal was not approved by the House.

If both chambers pass such a proposal during the upcoming session, it would have to go on the November 2020 ballot because abolishing the commission would involve changing the Constitution.