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House moves forward on Florida Constitution Revision Commission repeal

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(Florida Department of State)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An effort to eliminate the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, which placed seven constitutional amendments on the 2018 ballot, is headed to the House floor.

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday gave final committee approval to a proposal (HJR 301) that would ask voters in November to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which drew across-the-aisle criticism for its 2018 work.

Set up by voters as part of the 1968 Florida Constitution, the 37-member panel meets every 20 years and has unique power to place proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot. Most of its members are appointed by the governor and legislative leaders.

All seven amendments it placed on the 2018 ballot were approved by voters. But it drew criticism, in part, because it tied together unrelated issues in single ballot measures, such as linking a ban on offshore oil drilling with a ban on vaping in workplaces. Also, it drew criticism for wading into policy issues that are usually determined by the Legislature.

Rep. Brad Drake, R-Eucheeanna, is sponsoring the repeal after the full House last year did not take up a similar measure. A Senate version (SJR 142) also has been moving forward and must clear the Rules Committee before it could go to the full Senate.

The House Judiciary Committee approval came after the panel rejected a proposal by Rep. Dianne Hart, D-Tampa, that sought to alter the makeup of the Constitution Revision Commission. Hart wanted to prohibit recent legislators from serving on the commission, shift the majority of appointments away from the governor and legislative leaders to the state Supreme Court and limit amendments to single topics.

“I don’t think it’s the CRC, I think it’s the people who serve on the CRC and how they’ve been allowed to run wild with their ideas,” Hart said.