JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4JAX has been taking a look at the three proposed constitutional amendments that all Florida voters will see on their ballots for the general election.
Amendment 2, if approved by 60% of voters, would abolish the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, also known as the CRC. It’s a group that recommends changes to the state’s constitution every 20 years.
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Some lawmakers say the powerful yet obscure 37-member commission has got to go, but others argue it needs to be reformed, not abolished.
Some lawmakers criticized the last meeting of the commission, which placed seven items on the 2018 ballot. Voters approved all of them.
Specifically, Amendment 2 grew out of the controversy where the CRC created “bundled” ballot proposals, like one to ban offshore oil drilling and indoor vaping.
“The simple truth is, we don’t need it. Other states don’t have it and what it does is deny the people of the state of Florida the opportunity to hold these individuals accountable, because they’re literally accountable to no one,” said Republican State Senator Jeff Brandes who sponsored the bill to put the proposal to end the CRC on the ballot.
Brandes said the last commission was packed with unelected bureaucrats, political donors and lobbyists.
But Florida House Democrat Anna Eskamani said she would like to see reforms, not the end of the commission.
“I have a lot of concerns in abolishing the CRC because it would centralize the ballot amendment process within the legislature, a partisan body,” Eskamani said.
Brandes said if the CRC is abolished the constitution can still be amended by citizen-led ballot initiatives, but that’s a process Eskamani claims Republicans are trying to make more difficult.
Eskamani does support reforms in the CRC, like eliminating that bundling of proposals, before the committee meets again starting in 2037.
“Right now only the governor, the [Florida Supreme Court] Chief Justice and leadership in the legislature [including the Senate President and the House Speaker] make appointments, and they really should be reformed so members of the minority caucus can also make appointments to this 37-person body,” Eskamani said.
The Florida Attorney General is also an automatic appointee.
As far as the argument the CRC isn’t accountable for its actions, Eskamani doesn’t buy it.
“Just like elected officials, they are open to public scrutiny, public commentary, and we can engage in that process,” she said. “And CRC tends to also meet throughout the state. So compared to the legislature, where they only meet in Tallahassee, the CRC also has a habit of traveling the state and meeting with people across Florida. So to some degree, they’re more accessible when they are meeting compared to even Florida lawmakers.”
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