Revision Commission meets Thursday at FSCJ Kent Campus
It happens only every 20 years, and it’s happening now .
People in Jacksonville have the opportunity this week to help shape the course of fundamental legal history in Florida.
The 2017-18 Florida Constitution Revision Commission will convene at 11 a.m. Thursday at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Kent Campus auditorium.
The purpose of the meeting is to hear suggestions from the public that will guide the commission’s deliberations.
The 37-member commission is made up of the attorney general, 15 members appointed by the governor, nine by the president of the Senate, nine by the speaker of the House of Representatives and three by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
Jacksonville lawyer Hank Coxe is the only area appointee to the commission.
Over a period of about 12 months, it is charged with traveling throughout the state to identify issues, perform research and then possibly recommend changes to the constitution.
Following a series of public hearings, it will begin its deliberations after the conclusion of the legislative session.
Any amendments proposed will be placed by the commission on the November 2018 general election ballot and will have to secure at least 60 percent approval by voters to be added to the constitution. The hearings began March 29 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.
Paul SanGiovani, 9th Judicial Circuit representative on The Florida Bar Board of Governors, offered the Bar’s collective knowledge and support to the commission.
“These experts are prepared to help the commission in any way possible, including providing assistance with research, answering questions, and consulting on fine points of law,” he said in an article published in The Florida Bar News.
So far, suggestions from the public have ranged from restoring the rights of non-violent felons and allowing open primary elections in which all voters could participate regardless of party affiliation to giving voters rights of initiation and referendum to enact and repeal laws.
All public hearings and commission meetings may be accessed through a live stream at thefloridachannel.org, where a video archive is available.
For more information, visit floridabar.org/crc and flcrc.gov.
Constitution Revision Commission: 20 years ago
Amendments proposed by the 1997-98 commission:
Conservation of natural resources and creation of Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Approved by 72 percent of voters.
Requires adequate provision for conservation of natural resources; created Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, granting it the regulatory and executive powers of the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and the Marine Fisheries Commission; removed the legislature’s exclusive authority to regulate marine life and grants certain powers to new commission; authorizes bonds to continue financing acquisition and improvement of lands for conservation, outdoor recreation, and related purposes; restricts disposition of state lands designated for conservation purposes.
Firearms purchases local option for criminal history records check and waiting period
Approved by 72 percent of voters.
Authorized each county the option of requiring a criminal history records check and waiting period of 3 to 5 days in connection with the sale of any firearm; defined “sale” as the transfer of money or other valuable consideration for a firearm where any part of the transaction occurs on property open to public access; does not apply to holders of a concealed weapons permit when purchasing a firearm.
Public Education of Children
Approved by 71 percent of voters.
Declared the education of children to be a fundamental value of the people of Florida, established adequate provision for education as a paramount duty of the state; expanded constitutional mandate requiring the state to make adequate provision for a uniform system of free public schools by also requiring the state to make adequate provision for an efficient, safe, secure and high-quality system.
Approved by 66 percent of voters.
Defined “natural persons” who are equal before the law and who have inalienable rights as “female and male alike;” provided that no person shall be deprived of any right because of national origin; changed “physical handicap” to “physical disability” as a reason that people are protected from being deprived of any right.
Ballot access, public campaign financing and election process revisions
Approved by 64 percent of voters.
Provided ballot access requirements for independent and minor party candidates cannot be greater than requirements for majority party candidates; allows all voters, regardless of party, to vote in any party’s primary election if the winner will have no general election opposition; provides public financing of campaigns for statewide candidates who agree to campaign spending limits; permits candidates for governor to run in primary elections without a lieutenant governor; makes school board elections nonpartisan; corrected voting age.
Judicial selection and funding of state courts
Approved by 57 percent of voters.
Provides for future local elections to either retain current election of circuit and county judges or to choose merit selection by appointment and retention by vote to retain or not; provides for election procedure for subsequent changes to selection of judges; increased county judges’ terms to six years; corrected Judicial Qualifications Commission term of office; allocates state court system funding among state, counties and users of the courts.
Restructuring the state Cabinet
Approved by 56 percent of voters.
Merged cabinet offices of treasurer and comptroller into one chief financial officer; reduced cabinet membership to chief financial officer, attorney general and agriculture commissioner; secretary of state and education commissioner eliminated from elected cabinet; secretary of state duties defined by law; changed composition of state Board of Education from governor and cabinet to board appointed by governor; board appoints education commissioner; defined state board of administration, trustees of internal improvement trust fund and land acquisition trust fund.
Miscellaneous matters and technical revisions
Approved by 55 percent of voters.
Removed gender-specific references; allows courts martial to impose prison sentences; moved ethics code provision; specifies time for veto message consideration; clarified that the Legislature must give officials general appropriations bills 72 hours before final passage; allows direct appeal of courts martial to specified state court and advisory opinions from federal military courts; requires sooner Constitution Revision Commission appointments; changed tax and budget reform commission voting procedures and meetings from every 10 to every 20 years.
Local and municipal property tax exemptions and citizen access to local officials
Failed when only 49.8 percent of voters approved the amendment.
Would have broadened tax exemption for governmental uses of municipal property; would have authorized Legislature to exempt certain municipal and special district property used for airport, seaport or public purposes; would have permitted local option tax exemption for property used for conservation purposes; would have permitted local option tangible personal property tax exemption for attachments to mobile homes and certain residential rental furnishings; would have removed limitations on citizens’ ability to communicate with local officials about matters which are the subject of public hearings.
Source: Partnership for Revision of Florida’s Constitution