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Jax Daily Record Tuesday, Oct. 31, 201708:42 PM EST

Constitution Revision Commission reviewing proposals

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Restoring voting rights to felons was brought up at every stop during group’s statewide tour.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission is considering about 50 proposals from the 37-member panel.

In addition, nearly 800 proposals were submitted by the public.

Hank Coxe

Ten substantive committees and two procedural committees have until May 10 to review the proposals to determine whether an amendment will be placed on the November 2018 general election ballot.

If an amendment receives at least 60 percent of the popular vote, it will become part of the state’s constitution.

Jacksonville attorney Hank Coxe is chair of the Ethics and Elections Committee. It meets today in Tallahassee to hear presentations on proposed amendments related to campaign finance and regulation, ethics requirements for lobbyists and voting/civil rights issues.

One of the items on the committee’s agenda today is a proposal by Commissioners Chris Smith, an attorney in Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa attorney Arthenia Joyner, a former state representative and state senator.

The proposal is to amend Section 4 of Article V of the state constitution to allow restoration of voting rights for certain felons upon completion of all terms of sentence, including parole and probation.

Those convicted of murder of a felony sexual offense would not have voting rights restored under the proposed amendment.

Coxe said the issue was brought up by the public at every stop on the commission’s statewide “Florida Speaks, We Listen” tour that began in April. More than 2,000 proposed revisions and thousands of comments were received from residents.

“I was impressed by the diversity of the people who brought up this issue,” Coxe said.

He said one of the arguments that proponents of restoring voting rights to felons after completion of sentences was that Florida is an “outlier” among states on the issue.

According to a study included in a staff report that will be submitted to the committee, Florida is one of only 12 states that impose voting restrictions on at least some categories of ex-offenders who have completed their sentence.

The commission maintains a website at flcrc.gov that includes proposals submitted by the commissioners and by the public, meeting notices, agendas, transcripts and videos.

In addition, revisefl.com provides information about the constitution revision process and links to webpages dedicated to constitution revision maintained by The Florida Bar, Florida Chamber Foundation, Florida Association of Counties, Florida League of Cities and League of Women Voters of Florida.

Constitution Revision Commission committee proceedings are live streamed at thefloridachannel.org, where there also is an extensive video archive dating back to October 2015, when the 2017-18 commission was in the planning stages.

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