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Lawmakers seek to abolish the Constitution Review Commission -- again

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – One of the first bills passed in the initial committee hearings for the 2020 Legislative Session would as voters to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission.

The CRC is a constitutional body that meets every 20 years to propose constitutional amendments. The panel is mostly comprised of political appointees.

While it might seem strange legislation that wouldn't impact the state for nearly two decades has been made such a high priority for lawmakers, Senate sponsor Jeff Brandes believes the conversation needs to happen now.

"Five years from now I don't think the Legislature would propose this type of thing because it's too far from the voters' minds, but I think it's still fresh today," Brandes said.

What's still fresh is the memory of the CRC bundling seemingly unrelated proposals like indoor vaping and oil drilling into single amendments when it last met in 2018.

The body also came under heavy criticism for seemingly making up rules as it went along. In some cases it passed proposals off the floor that hadn't been vetted in committees.

"It was essentially a Jumanji-type process,"  Brandes said.

Last year legislation to abolish the CRC passed the Senate, but it was never taken up for a vote on the House Floor.

Some House members like Rep. James Grant still have hesitations about completely doing away with the CRC.

"I think a revision and review of our constitution is a healthy thing," Grant said

Grant believes it may be better for the Legislature to limit the CRC's authority, to only updating existing constitutional language.

"Our constitution should not be a secondary place of statute. Our constitution should not be an unelected group of people offering new language into the constitution," Grant  said.

While Abolishing the CRC is clearly on the fast track in the Senate, so far companion legislation has not been filed in the House.

If abolishing the commission makes it out of the Legislature, voters will have the final say in November  2020.