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Move to end Constitution Revision Commission heads to Senate floor

House version of proposal also ready to be taken up by full chamber
Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-10 18:14:09-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A move to end the Florida Constitution Revision Commission is ready to go to the Senate floor after a controversy last year about the powerful panel tying together unrelated issues in proposed constitutional amendments.

The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday approved a proposal that would ask voters in 2020 to eliminate the commission, which meets every 20 years to consider changes to the state Constitution.

Last year’s commission has drawn fire for the topics it addressed, which, along with bundling vaping and oil drilling in one amendment, ranged from ending greyhound racing to strengthening lobbying restrictions.

Senator Tom Lee, who was a member of last year’s Constitution Revision Commission, voted against the elimination proposal.

He feels the makeup of the commission allows it to tackle issue the legislature won’t.

“Abandoning and abolishing the Constitution Revision Commission is kind of knee jerk, and an overreaction," said Lee.

However, bill sponsor Jeff Brandes feels there is limited accountability of appointees to the commission, whose members were largely appointed by former Governor Rick Scott and Republican legislative leaders.

“I have grave concerns about the overall process. I think the process that we have of citizen petitions and the process that we have of moving joint resolutions through the legislature is sufficient," said Brandes. "It provides ample access to the citizens of the state of Florida.”

The CRC put seven amendments on the November ballot, all of which were approved by voters.

But the controversy focused on decisions such as combining a ban on offshore oil drilling and a ban on workplace vaping in a single constitutional amendment.

The House version of the proposal is also ready to be taken up by the full chamber.