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A Move To Abolish The Florida Constitution Revision Commission Is Poised For A Floor Vote

A day before Florida's electors gathered at the Capital Monday, the state's Senate President tested positive for COVID-19.
Erich Martin
A day before Florida's electors gathered at the Capital Monday, the state's Senate President tested positive for COVID-19.

Following its last meeting in 2018, the Constitution Revision Commission, often called the CRC, met criticism when it bundled topics like vaping and oil drilling, or took up subjects lawmakers had long been working to address, like dog racing.

It left many legislators feeling frustrated—like Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).

“The CRC is bipartisanly detested and should be abolished,” Brandes said in a recent committee meeting.

Brandes is behind a bill to get rid of the CRC. It just passed a full vote on the Senate floor. Rep. Mike Beltran (R-Valrico) is sponsoring a similar measure in the House. It’s poised for a vote in its chamber. Beltran says one of the concerns about the CRC is the group’s ability to bundle proposals.

“The CRC meets once every 20 years and they place amendments onto the ballot for everyone to vote on. They’re one of the only methods of constitutional amendment that allow compounding—that is placing unrelated propositions in one amendment that the voter has to vote up or down on,” Beltran says.

Brandes says he’s also concerned that members of the CRC are appointed not elected.

“What is does is deny the people of Florida the opportunity to hold these individuals accountable,” Brandes says.

Sen. Darryl Rouson, (D-St. Petersburg) argues the CRC should be “reformed not repealed.”

“The CRC may not be perfect, but as lawmakers we should work to improve it rather than scrap it. Abolishing the CRC along with other efforts to make it more difficult and more expensive to circulate citizens petitions to amend the Florida Constitution will make it harder for citizen voices to be heard in shaping the future of their state,” Rouson says.

Rouson served on the Constitution Revision Commission in 2018. While Brandes and Beltran argue the Constitution Revision Commission is disconnected from the will of the people because it lacks a system for accountability, Rouson argues its an important pathway for Florida residents to make their voices heard.

“Florida gives its citizens a rare and innovative opportunity to play an active role in Democracy. Enshrined in the state constitution, this 37-member body convenes only every 20 years, travels the state to hear about the issues that matter most to Floridians and proposes constitutional amendments that go right to the ballot for a public vote,” Rouson said while

Rouson says rather than abolishing the CRC he thinks lawmakers should address their concerns by requiring CRC proposals to require the single subject rule or putting more rules in place about who can serve on the body.

Despite Rouson’s suggestions, the move to abolish the CRC is moving forward. If it passes both chambers, it will go to the ballot for voter approval.

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