The second of three proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that the Florida Legislature voted to place on the ballot this November would repeal the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, a panel that meets every 20 years and has the power to propose ballot measures.
Amendment 2 grew out of the controversy over the 2018 meeting the FCRC centered on its creation of “bundled” ballot proposals that tied together seemingly unrelated topics, such as one proposal to ban offshore oil drilling and indoor vaping.
But Sen. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat who served on the commission, argued that lawmakers should have focused on prohibiting the bundling of proposals to avoid voter confusion.
Similarly, the League of Women Voters of Florida said that while the 2018 commission was “political” and put amendments forward that “made it difficult to separate valid issues,” the repeal proposal would remove “a generational opportunity for citizens to update their Constitution.”
- ABOLISHING THE CONSTITUTION REVISION COMMISSION. Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to abolish the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets at 20-year intervals and is scheduled to next convene in 2037, as a method of submitting proposed amendments or revisions to the State Constitution to electors of the state for approval. This amendment does not affect the ability to revise or amend the State Constitution through citizen initiative, constitutional convention, the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, or legislative joint resolution.
All voters will be asked to say “yes” or “no.” It takes 60% of the vote for any amendment to be added to the constitution.
Arguments for passage of Amendment 2
- State Rep. Mike Beltran (R): “The CRC meets once every 20 years and they place amendments onto the ballot for everyone to vote on. They’re one of the only methods of constitutional amendment that allow compounding—that is placing unrelated propositions in one amendment that the voter has to vote up or down on.”
- State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R): “[The CRC] is rediscovered every 20yrs, has no rules, players have no experience, once it starts it can’t stop, crazy things pop out, and you never know how damaging they will be. Election night, you yell ‘Jumanji.’”
- State Sen. Jeff Brandes (R): “The CRC is bipartisanly detested and should be abolished.” Brandes also said the individuals appointed to the commission aren’t held accountable. “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,” Brandes said.
Arguments in opposition to Amendment 2
- Carol Weissert, professor of political science at Florida State University and director of the LeRoy Collins Institute and Lester Abberger, board chair of the LeRoy Collins Institute: “The most recent CRC engaged in “bundling” — lumping several unrelated issues into a single ballot question that required a single up-or-down vote. This led to some confusion among voters. ... The bundling problem can be dealt with by improving, not abolishing, the CRC. The Legislature could amend the process by requiring future CRCs to abide by the single subject provision. ... Florida’s CRC process is worth saving. The CRC follows the advice of Thomas Jefferson, who thought every generation should have the ‘solemn’ opportunity to update its constitution. This duty should not be lightly revoked.”
- State Sen. Darryl Rouson (D): “The CRC may not be perfect, but as lawmakers, we should work to improve it rather than scrap it. Abolishing the CRC along with other efforts to make it more difficult and more expensive to circulate citizens’ petitions to amend the Florida Constitution will make it harder for citizen voices to be heard in shaping the future of their state. “Florida gives its citizens a rare and innovative opportunity to play an active role in Democracy. Enshrined in the state constitution, this 37-member body convenes only every 20 years, travels the state to hear about the issues that matter most to Floridians and proposes constitutional amendments that go right to the ballot for a public vote.”