Constitution Revision Commission Repeal Bill Advances

Mar 14, 2019

Credit Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Lawmakers are considering a plan to get rid of Florida’s Constitution Revision. After some say the board is out of control. Blaise Gainey reports.

DeFuniak Springs Republican Representative Brad Drake says he often gets calls from constituents when sample ballots are sent. But he says this November those calls were different.

“I noticed that there was some anger and some confusion that it didn’t make sense. People were asking ‘Well why is this proposal, why is this amendment, why does it have like three or four amendments on it what does off shore have to do with, whatever the other item was', yeah vaping, I mean yeah those have a lot in common,” said Drake

He thinks what the commission did by bundling different ideas into one proposal was unfair to voters and also out of the scope of what the group is tasked to do.

“By its very name constitution revision commission, the word revision or revise, Meriam Webster defines that as re-examine or make alterations to. But what you’ll see in those last proposals that were made or the proposals that appeared on the ballots those were not revisions those were sweeping policy changes," said Drake

Now he wants to give voters a chance to get rid of the group all together. But Sarasota Democratic Representative Margaret Good questions if just tweaking the commission’s mission would help.

"I wonder if it wouldn’t make some since to consider changing the scope of authority of the commission instead of getting rid of it entirely and having them actually review the constitution and revise it." asked Good.

“Well the scope and structure is there it’s just being abused the only way to address that is to eliminate them completely or to another similar method if you think that there is some usefulness in the crc to be able to exist to make revisions to the standing constitution, to limit the ability to put amendments on the ballot adhering to the single subject rule as we do when we file legislation,” answered Drake.

Another bill moving through the legislature would let voters choose whether to limit the commissions proposed amendments to a single subject. But Brian Pitts a regular public commenter at committee meetings argues the single subject bill wouldn’t solve the problem.

“You need to go with this one. Because the other problem is so what you do single subject, there still going to put statutory language in the constitution which that don’t belong there. And that’s what they did last time, they put statutory language in the constitution,” said Pitts.

Representative Drake agrees the commission is no longer sticking to its purpose.

"The purpose of the constitution revision commission is to determine if existing constitutional provision should be repealed, scheduled into statute, simplified or clarified. That’s their job and I think what is now known as the constitution revision commission has morphed into something totally different. I feel like it’s out of control," said Drake.

If both bills pass voters will decide if they want to keep the CRC and if they want to limit the group’s proposals to a single subject. If both get approval from 60 percent of voters lawmakers could have two conflicting requests.