Florida’s Constitution Commission Continues Work Ahead of Next Year’s Ballot Initiatives

Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission Chairman Carlos Beruff being sworn in at the state capital in March. (Public domain photo by Jesse Romimora.)

Earlier this month Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission moved one step closer to finalizing their 2018 ballot measures.

The Constitution Revision Commission is a unique feature of Florida and is unlike anything else found in the U.S.

Once every twenty years, a commission composed of 37 members is created to examine the issues in the state constitution and propose changes inspired by public input and opinion.

After the changes have a final vote by the commissioners, the proposed change will be added to the 2018 election ballot for all of Florida to vote on.

If there is a 60 percent voter approval by Floridians for each proposal, the proposed change becomes amended into the state constitution.

This collaborative process is grounded on the principles of democracy and advocates for increased civic engagement and participation by Floridians.

Last week, the CRC had a full commissioners meeting in which they were able to directly sponsor proposals. Out of that meeting, the commissioners are sponsoring 8 proposals after considering over 1,400.

Before the full commissioners meeting last week, the CRC had spent the last 6 months on the road, holding public hearings in Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, Gainesville, Fort Myers and more cities across the state in order to engage with the people and make sure our voices matter.

With the release of the eight proposals, CRC Chairman Carlos Beruff stated, “We are very grateful to the thousands of Floridians who have participated in the CRC process either by attending our public hearings or submitting their own proposed changes to the Florida Constitution. As we review the more than 1,400 public proposals and thousands of comments and emails we have received, it is apparent that Floridians share many similar interests and ideas.”

Of those 8 proposals, two are being directly sponsored by CRC Commissioners. These include closing a write-in loophole and removing expired provisions from the constitution.

The remaining six proposals chosen by the Commissioners include:

  • Increasing the retirement age for judges and justices from 70 to 75 years of age
  • Restoring certain civil rights of felons after sentence completion
  • Removing a provision that regulates and prohibits certain property rights by aliens ineligible for citizenship
  • Removing the prohibition against using public venues in aid of a religious or sectarian institution
  • Establishing additional rights for victims of crime
  • Requiring a state court or administrative law judge to interpret a state statute in litigation between an administrative agency and private party

The next step in the journey is for these proposals to be reviewed and considered in the appropriate committees within the Commission. With approval by the appropriate committees, the proposals will move to the Style and Drafting Committee for ballot preparation.

After the CRC holds a final vote, the sponsored proposals will be filed for ballot placement.

As the only state that engages in this democratic process with the public, it is imperative for 2018 voters to consider the participatory approach the state government is taking in order to make sure the voices of Floridians are being heard.

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